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De Lovely | review | dvd | Lollipop

De-Lovely

(MGM Home)
by Michael McCarthy

Kevin Kline is masterful - and often barely recognizable - as legendary composer Cole Porter (1893-1964) in this biopic that doubles as a musical. Ashley Judd, finally free from the realm of bad suspense thrillers, also delivers her best work in years, deeply affecting in the role of his highly-supportive wife and muse, Linda Porter.

It's never easy to cram someone's life into a two hour film, but director Irwin Winkler and writer Jay Cocks have made an earnest effort. From Paris to Venice, and Broadway to Hollywood, there's little ground they don't cover, the downside being that much of the film feels like a montage. The first hour slows down primarily when such singers as Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, and Robbie Williams are performing. Moments worth savoring, since it's Cole's songwriting that is most noteworthy about his early years, and it's fascinating to see these singers delivering his standards. (The soundtrack is a must-have.) However, scenes in which an aged Porter looks back on his life while collaborating on an autobiographical musical with a producer seem a bit pointless, like voice-over narration that insists on stating the obvious. It's in the third act when Linda grows tired of Cole's sexual escapades and he suffers an accident that the film finally gets it right. That's also when Kline and Judd truly shine, and if the song and dance haven't won you over yet, then their heartfelt performances certainly will.
(www.mgm.com)
 


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