Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Cedric the Entertainer, Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton | Directed by: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen | Produced by: Brian Grazer, James Jacks, Sean Daniel, Ethan Coen | Story by: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone and John Romano | Screenplay by: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone | Cinematography by: Roger Deakins | Distributor: Universal Pictures
Is there such a thing as cruelty that can be tolerated? Isn’t all spiteful malice considered intolerable? Otherwise it couldn’t be called cruelty. Right? If you disagree, this tenth Coen Brothers feature film “Intolerable Cruelty” with its wit and humor may fit into that category, crafting cruelty in its subject matter, but making it tolerable—even enjoyable—for its audience.
Heartless divorce lawyer Miles Massey (George Clooney) twists truth and manipulates facts, winning cases for his clients and fortunes for himself. Bored with his work and his riches he becomes “fascinated” by Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta Jones) whose interest lies in marrying and divorcing unsuspecting rich men solely to get their money. But when Miles and Marilyn meet, their chemistry results in more than either of them bargain for.
Some scenarios presented throughout this romantic comedy deal not only with divorce, but with situations that lead to divorce—namely, extramarital affairs. In the opening scene, Donovan Donaly (Geoffrey Rush) intrudes upon his wife having an affair with the pool man. This scene, like a couple others, refrains from showing any nudity—though some are clad only in underwear.
Additionally, some of the jokes revolve around sex, and some of the language is profane. There is also a surprising incident of violence where a character is accidentally shot and killed. The shock of the event really catches the audience off guard and somehow (perhaps due to the over-the-top style of the film) manages to keep comedy as the focus.
Above these things, this film has something previous Coen Brothers’ comedies haven’t had since “Raising Arizona”: heart. Dealing with an assortment of ugliness in bad marriage relationships, the film ultimately celebrates trust and unconditional love. The audience is able to endear themselves to our main character through his change as he asks, “What ever happened to love?” and soon after declares, “Love is good.”
Decorated with dexterous dialogue, this film is highly entertaining. There is a court scene with clever word play comparable to the famous Abbot and Costello “Who’s On First?” banter. Lots of laughs are to be had throughout this film, while proving to have its sensitive side and capped with favorable goodness.
Violence: Mild | Profanity: Moderate | Sex/Nudity: Moderate