Prayer Focus
Movie Review

De-Lovely

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
STAFF WRITER

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults and Teens
Genre:
Biography, Romance, Comedy, Musical, Historical
Length:
2 hr. 5 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
June 13, 2004
Copyright, MGM
Copyright, MGM
Copyright, MGM
Copyright, MGM
Copyright, MGM
Copyright, MGM
Copyright, MGM
Relevant Issues
Copyright, MGM
Relationship issues
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Questions about homosexuality

What’s wrong with being gay? Answer

What should be the attitude of the church toward homosexuals and homosexuality? Answer

What about gays needs to change? (It may not be what you think.) Answer

Can a gay or lesbian person go to heaven? Answer

Featuring: Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd, Jonathan Pryce, Keith Allen, Angie Hill
Director: Irwin Winkler
Producer: Rob Cowan, Charles Winkler, Irwin Winkler
Distributor: MGM

With the recent revival of film musicals such as “Moulin Rouge” and “Chicago,” it seems likely an attempt would be made to produce another one. While the musical numbers are the biggest strength of this movie, the overall production doesn’t seem to match the stellar song performances. It has moments of entertainment, but not overly satisfying.

Directed by long time film producer Irwin Winkler (Enough, Shipping News, Rocky II-V), this movie highlights the successful career of music composer, Cole Porter (Kevin Kline). Partly narrated by an old Cole Porter (also Kevin Kline) and his friend (Jonathan Pryce), their “This Is Your Life” format begins with Porter’s professional career already in place, with the inciting incident is Porter meeting the love of his life, Linda (Ashley Judd). Covering an array of his most popular songs, the narration follows his work on Broadway musicals and Hollywood films as the backdrop, but plays out his personal life as a love story. The main conflict is also between Cole and Linda, due to Cole’s sexual promiscuity with other men.

The focus of this story is clearly about a talented legend of our time that was involved with homosexuality. They no doubt present him as sincerely in love with Linda, but there are moments throughout where Porter has affairs with various men. Linda knows this before they marry, but is willing to accept him, hinting that she has hopes to change him. Linda, who spoils Porter through their marriage, initially tells him, “You don’t have to love me the way I love you. Just love me.” The old Cole Porter admits that when he was young he “wanted every kind of love that was available” and that he couldn’t find it in one person—or one sex. But Linda is constantly frustrated by his affairs with other men, and, embarrassed after another affair tells him, “I never asked you to change, just be discreet.”

In 1940’s fashion of filmmaking, there is no sex or nudity shown. Everything is done very discreetly in communicating the affairs that go on. Cole and Linda do sleep together before they’re married, but we only see them kiss in bed before a fade to black. Cole is never seen in bed with another man, but in one scene kisses another man (who is in bed) goodbye before he leaves the hotel room. There is also another scene where Cole kisses a man briefly when he visits a nightclub for homosexual men. And there are moments scattered throughout where homosexuality or affairs are talked about or alluded to.

The story line is average, and they have made a strong choice by putting the love story at the center. The acting is well done, but what outshines everything is the musical numbers performed by various contemporary artists. Elvis Costello, Alanis Morrisette, Sheryl Crow, Robbie Williams, Natalie Cole and more all make guest appearances singing solo songs written by Porter. This is the biggest entertainment of the show.

The excellent old-age make-up done for Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd are also some positive assets to this piece. But some uncomplimentary cinematography and usual stylization of the 1940’s detract from any of the potency. There are also a few moments of foul language, including taking Christ’s name in vain.

The narration by old Porter and his friend present us with how Porter’s life is being presented in this film. Interestingly, these two characters watch Porter’s life in a theater being appropriately performed on stage in front of them and on film. Old Porter reacts, as we may react, uncomfortably at how he sees different events in his life, but his friend reminds him that this is how it was. This biggest issue is obviously his homosexuality, and the whole story seems to try to not judge or condemn it, but just present it. The young Cole does admit once to Linda that he did wish he could love her better and for them to be happier, which I interpreted as Cole wanting to be free from other sexual entanglements. In this story, however, he doesn’t seem to change.

If you enjoy Cole Porter’s music, it is fun to see it performed by talented musicians in this two-hour festival. But the story is average, and although it deals with a touchy subject, doesn’t present us with anything too interesting. Categorically this film is a musical, and most of the musical numbers are exceptional, but the overall film was difficult to enjoy it as much.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “‘De-Lovely’ is an original musical portrait of American composer Cole Porter, filled with his unforgettable songs. In the film, Porter is looking back on his life as if it was one of his spectacular stage shows, with the people and events of his life becoming the actors and action onstage. Through elaborate production numbers and legendary hits like ‘Anything Goes,’ ‘It’s De-Lovely,’ and ‘Night and Day,’ Porter’s elegant, excessive past comes to light—including his deeply complicated relationship with his wife and muse, Linda Lee Porter… ‘De-Lovely’ is a sparkling celebration of Porter’s music as well as a stirring exploration of the artist’s journey and the undying power of love.”

Official movie Web site

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—I knew nothing about Cole Porter’s lifestyle until I saw this movie. I knew only of his wonderful contributions to the world of music, musicals and Hollywood films of the 1940s. If I had know of his homosexuality before this film came out I probably would not have gone to see the movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Wendy McDaniel, age 33
Positive—This is a film for adult Christians, due to the bisexuality and infidelity depicted, but persons of all ages may enjoy the lovely and innovative soundtrack (that is, artists one wouldn’t ever associate with Cole Porter songs give marvelous nuances to them). We went immediately from the theater to a music store to purchase the CD! The acting of the principle players, especially the two leads, is very good, and the costumes are a treat for the eyes. My husband and I found the deep but sometimes challenging love of the the Coles very touching.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—R. Scott, age 50
Negative—This movie was a disappointment. I really can’t bear watching movies that advocate homosexuality. Save your money. If nobody watches movies that are lewd, maybe they’d quit making them.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Robert, age 41
Movie Critics
…focuses on the love between popular composer Cole Porter… and his wife, Linda, but it does not shy away from talking about Porter’s infamous homosexual affairs. Despite the homosexual references, the heterosexual love between Cole and his wife overcomes his secret, perverse lifestyle in this well executed musical biography.
—Tom Snyder, Movieguide
…Porter floated effortlessly for a time between worlds: Gay and straight, Europe and America, Broadway and Hollywood, show biz and high society… If the film has a weakness, it is that neither Cole nor Linda ever found full, complete, passionate, satisfying romance. They couldn’t find it with each other, almost by their terms of their arrangement, but there is no evidence that Porter found it in serial promiscuity, and although Linda Lee did have affairs, they are not made a significant part of this story…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…fenced in by poor singing… take your pick, a di-saster, a de-bacle, a dud. But the music is de-lightful, if not delightfully performed by the actors…
—James Verniere, Boston Herald
…addresses the composer’s homosexuality in a tactfully undramatic way, and his life and songs in a flat-footed, semi-fantasy…
—Bob Strauss, LA Daily News
…it’s delicious, it’s de… pressing…
—E! Online