Ahhh, the Coen
Brothers -- what unstoppable filmmaking machines they are.
Each new picture they create is another gem in the already
stellar crown which is their career. "Blood
Simple" -- a masterpiece. "Barton
Fink" -- a masterpiece. "Raising
Arizona" -- need I say more? "Fargo"
-- should have won Best Picture. "O Brother
Where Art Thou" -- wholly unique. And, now,
comes their first attempt at romantic comedy, the often
hilarious, yet ultimately lacking "Intolerable
George Clooney stars as Miles Massey, a renowned divorce
lawyer and celebrated author of the Massey Pre-Nup.
Massey is hired by millionaire Rex Rexroth (Edward
Hermann) to keep his former wife Marilyn (Catherine
Zeta-Jones) from taking his precious fortune in their
divorce. Massey, of course, wins. Marilyn,
however, enlists Miles to draft the prenuptual agreement
for her next marriage, to millionaire oil tycoon Howard
(Billy Bob Thornton). Amidst all of this, Massey is
so fascinated by Marilyn's beauty. grace, and
intelligence, that he falls head over heels for her.
Cedric the Entertainer co-stars as a detective, Richard
Jenkins as another attorney, and Geoffrey Rush as one of
where is John Goodman? Where is Steve Buscemi?
Where is Frances MacDormand? They are not in this
picture. Instead, the Coens extend their film family
tree to newcomers like Jones, Cedric the Entertainer, and
Hermann. Is this a good thing? For the most
part, yes. Edward Hermann delivers the best
performance in the film as Rexroth -- he is a much
underrated actor with some of the best comedic timing in
the business. As everyone knows, I loathe the acting
abilities of Cedric the Entertainer, but even he managed
to not get on my nerves as badly as usual. And,
Clooney and Jones have incredible chemistry together on
screen -- watch out, Michael Douglas -- Clooney is younger
and better looking.
I mention something about lacking? Ah, yes.
The comedy is there -- I found myself doubled over during
some parts. And, the romance is there -- not your
typical mushy romance, but romance nonetheless. What
I found to be lacking was the style the Coen Brothers
usually possess and add to the film. It is as if
this film was too organized, too perfectly timed, and too
'by the book' in terms of production. I missed the
mood lighting, the visionary cinematography, and the
trademark Coen pacing. Maybe they were trying to
make it more accessible to the mainstream audiences, but I
felt doing so took away greatly from the film. I
like going to see a Coen Brothers film because it is a
Coen Brothers film -- not so they can, essentially, dumb
it down for the masses.
Overall, "Intolerable Cruelty" is more
accessible to the mainstream, but some might still be
unsatisfied. I was not unsatisfied -- I guess I just
expected more. This is one of the smarter romantic
comedies to come along in years, and leave it to the Coens
to do it. And, as I mentioned before, Edward
Hermann, as always, is marvelous in a supporting role that
could have been wasted by another actor. Just don't
expect a traditional Coen Brothers picture with this one
or you will be disappointed.