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Le Divorce

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Le Divorce

Starring: Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts
Director: James Ivory
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: August 2003
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Marie-Christine Adam, Glenn Close, Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston, Thierry Lhermitte, Leslie Caron, Bebe Neuwirth, Matthew Modine

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Cultural differences are always amusing. Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Henry James and Ben Franklin dwelled on them. So no wonder there's confusion when Isabel (Kate Hudson) arrives in Paris from Santa Barbara, California, to help her pregnant sister Roxy (Naomi Watts) whose philandering French husband Charles-Henri (Melvil Poupaud) has just abandoned her. Amidst "community property" negotiations and the complicated authentication of a valuable painting, Isabel becomes involved with Charles-Henri's married uncle (Thierry Lhermitte), a charming cad who customarily gives his new mistress a $18,000 Hermes handbag, nicknamed the "Kelly" for Grace Kelly who used to tote one, a gesture noted by another expatriate American (Glenn Close).

Inspired by Diane Johnson's deft novel, writer/director James Ivory and his longtime writing collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, delve into the American habit of direct, blunt communication as opposed to the French penchant for subtle indirection and amusement with the entanglements of infidelity. "Everything is worse when the French are involved," observes Stephen Fry as a British art appraiser. But there are too many subplots and too many extraneous characters - both of which dilute this glossy, genteel, if clumsy, comedy of manners. While Sam Waterston and Stockard Channing embody the girls' provincial parents with Leslie Caron ("An American in Paris") as the calm, aristocratic Gallic matriarch, Matthew Modine is inexplicably deranged as the distraught, gun-toting American husband of Charles-Henri's current infatuation. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Le Divorce" is a serenely smart, sophisticated 7. Breaking up is hard to do in any language, even if you can afford to pay $900 for a family luncheon.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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