Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
You Fascinate Me
Directed By: Joel Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen, Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone
Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Cedric The Entertainer, Edward Hermann, Richard Jenkins, Paul Adelstein and Billy Bob Thornton
Miles Massey (Clooney) is the most successful divorce lawyer around; he never loses a case and his self-designed pre-nup is studied at Harvard Law. Despite his amazing skill and prosperity he is becoming complacent and distant from his work. Enter Marilyn Rexroth (Zeta-Jones), wife to real estate mogul, Rex Rexroth (Massey's client). Even though she is the enemy, Massey is awakened by her beauty and allure.
In one scene while they have dinner together while the case goes on, there is a wonderful exchange of dialogue once Massey orders their dinners, he says: I assume you are a carnivore. To which Marilyn responds: Oh Mr. Massey, you have no idea. This is the type of dialogue I've come to expect from the Coen Brothers. Sadly, the entire movie is not as sharp or witty as some of the exchanges between these two characters. The actual courtroom scene for the case is very humourous as is a certain event involving a gun and a breath inhaler.
As you might have guessed, the two seemingly fall in love but that does not stop the adventures,it is in the final act where the film becomes predominantly Coen so to speak. Like in Barton Fink there is a turning point to the bizarre. Unfortunately, unlike Barton Fink it veers back toward the mainstream for a less than satisfying ending.
The Coen Brothers, in my mind have been the most consistent filmmakers when it comes to the quality of their films. From Blood Simple to their most recent (besides Intolerable Cruelty) The Man Who Wasn't There they have successfully blended genres without seeming out of place. Intolerable Cruelty at points does not seem to eminate the particular Coen vibe which in a way may be a good thing to depart from familiarity and go boldly into uncharted territory. Overall I was amused, I laughed aloud several times and I felt happy when I left the theatre and despite a few annoying characters and hokey scenes I really enjoyed this film.