155 – Intolerable Cruelty

I like the Coen Brothers, really I do, but I think this one misfired. George Clooney plays a shark-like matrimony lawyer, author of a world-famous, ironclad prenuptial agreement. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a wily woman in the midst of divorcing her philandering husband (Edward Hermann). Oh, could these two possibly find romance together?

The plot’s not terribly tough to follow – Clooney’s Miles Massey represents Hermann’s Rex Rexroth and ensures that Zeta-Jones’ Marylin Rexroth gets nothing (rather than half of Rexroth’s considerable assets). Marylin, stinging from the loss, plots revenge. And so it goes, in a catty game of cat-and-mouse that leaves the viewer looking for better cheese.

It’s a movie that simply doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a romantic comedy? A caper movie? A character study? What?

Clooney and Zeta-Jones are more than handsome enough to make the movie work on an eye-candy level, but nothing more. Their performances are agreeable, but nothing approaching the level of actors in other Coen Brothers films. But I won’t place all the blame on the shoulders of the actors – this movie seems to have been written and directed out of a paper bag, with little substance and even insufficient style.

Intolerable Cruelty: **

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