Well, the Coen boys are back. Joel and Ethan reinvent
themselves with each new movie, from Raising Arizona to Barton Fink to Fargo to O Brother, Where Art Thou?
This time they have produced a 21st Century version of the 1930's screwball
comedy. Think William Powell and Myrna Loy. Intolerable Cruelty
is the story of a divorce lawyer (George Clooney) who falls in love with the
wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) of the man (Edward Herrman) he is representing.
Zeta-Jones has changed the locks after Herrman was caught in flagrante delicto
practising his train fetish by an enthusiastic private eye (Cedric the Entertainer).
Insanity ensues. There are lots more plot twists but really who cares. It's
not meant to make much sense!
I don't think this is the Coen brothers' best film by any means but it is one of the most entertaining. The story is slight and the script isn't overwhelming. The performances, particularly by George Clooney, make this a hilarious movie. Clooney's suave but whacked out divorce lawyer is a fusion of Danny Ocean (Ocean's Eleven) and Ulysses Everett McGill (O Brother, Where Art Though?). His hair still stands up straight when he wakes up. Clooney is very funny and is able to play off his good looks. Zeta-Jone is also excellent playing his foil. She is looking very good as well, although the Coens seem to view her trach scar as something of a fetish object. The camera is constantly trained on Zeta-Jones' neck. The supporting cast is very good. Herrman really gets to let go as the horny soon-to-be-ex husband. There's a very funny bit at the beginnning featuring Geoffrey Rush as a cuckolded Hollywood bigwig. Billy Bob Thornton turns up as a dopey Texas oilman targeted by Zeta-Jones.
At times, you could be fooled into forgetting that this is a Coen film. Mostly, it is a straight ahead screwball comedy. But, then you get a scene with the ancient senior partner in Clooney's law firm who sits in his office kept alive by a plethora of medical gizmos and you say, ``Duh, this is a Coen brothers' movie!" The Coen's should get credit for making this film seem smooth and effortless and for helping Clooney be so amusing. I am often accused by my fans of not liking comedies but this one I like. It's not very deep but it is funny. I laughed a lot.