F.I.L.M. of the Week (December 24, 2010)

24 12 2010

With “True Grit” hitting theaters this week, I thought it would be as good a time as ever to visit a very different side of the Coen Brothers with the “F.I.L.M. of the Week” – their romantic comedy side.  Yes, believe it or not, the two quirky violent directors made one, although “Intolerable Cruelty” isn’t much like the normal ones that Hollywood churns out.  It’s a fascinating examination of our divorce and marry-for-money culture that’s a true winner.

In Los Angeles, Miles Massey (George Clooney) is a wildly successful divorce attorney.  He’s well-known by all in the field for his “Massey Prenup,” an agreement which has proven to be impenetrable.  He’s vicious in the courtroom and can figure out a way to get their clients exactly what they want in the divorce settlement, even if that means leaving their ex penniless.

But he soon meets his foil in Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a quintessential gold digger, using marriage only to gain wealth and financial freedom from a quick divorce.  In order to ensure a more favorable settlement from her husband Rex, she hires Gus Petch (Cedric the Entertainer), a private investigator, to “nail his ass.”  But even with their documented evidence, she’s no match for Miles in the courtroom who leaves her with nothing.  Bitter, she concocts a plan to enact revenge on Miles that hits him where it hearts the most: in the heart.

It’s easy to call “Intolerable Cruelty” the least “Coen Brothers”-y movie that the brothers have directed since it’s their only movie to date not based on an idea by them.  But everything you love, minus the gruesome violence, is on display here with a bit of a lighter touch thanks to actors like Clooney and Zeta-Jones.  It’s well-written with many fascinating plot twists and witty one-liners.  While there’s still some mainstream humor on display, there’s definitely some of that trademark dark and quirky Coen Brothers humor.  So if you’re looking to enjoy one of their movies and can’t quite stomach “No Country for Old Men,” plop yourself down for “Intolerable Cruelty” for all the fun of the Coen Brothers without all the darkness.

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