Le Divorce (2003)
The first three words that come to mind when I think about Le Divorce are “awful,” “atrocious,” and “abhorrent.” Not only is alliteration a ton of fun — more fun than watching this film, actually — but these words almost perfectly sum up what I thought of this film. The only other word that captures my feelings is “overlong,” although if a film fits into the previous categories, being “overlong” is almost a given.
This is a film that has too much going on, except none of it is interesting. We’re overloaded with information that we don’t want to take in. I started drifting about 30 minutes in, after I realized that the plot wasn’t going to resolve itself anytime soon, and at the two hour point, when the credits finally began to roll, I had to try to make sense of what I just watched. It’s not that it’s overly complex, but since I didn’t care, I found it excruciatingly difficult to pay attention to everything that the film vomits our direction.
From what I could make out, there are two main plots, and then a ton of subplots. The first involves Roxy (Naomi Watts) being left by her husband (Melvil Poupaud). He loves some Russian girl who gets maybe 5 lines of dialogue throughout, but the reasoning doesn’t matter. He’s leaving his pregnant wife, and is bringing lawyers into the mix because he wants half of the things he’s entitled to. The prized possession is a painting that everyone spends an awful long time trying to determine whether it was painted by some famous artist.
The second plot involves Roxy’s sister, Isabel (Kate Hudson), who shows up in Paris just as Roxy’s husband is leaving. She’s there to take care of Roxy, she says at one point, but she spends such little time doing so that one could be mistaken for thinking she’s there just to go shopping and walk around the city. She eventually becomes the mistress for Roxy’s husband’s uncle, Edgar (Thierry Lhermitte), or at least, I think that’s what his relation was in regards to everyone else in the film. Otherwise, I’m unsure, because he just kind of shows up at one point, and then Isabel has his number. Like I said, I was definitely drifting by this point.
There are subplots abound, although none of them mattered much to me. The Russian girl’s husband is American, and he appears every now and then to cause havoc. We first meet him as he steals Isabel’s umbrella, and we last see him on the Eifel Tower, apologizing and claiming that he needs a therapist. No, I don’t consider that spoiling anything, because I haven’t given you the reason he’s apologizing, or why it means anything to the plot. This part, I did understand, considering he does something, on a whim, that sane people would view as wrong. None of the characters react negatively afterward, save for the scene it happens in.
There are other subplots too, like how Roxy’s husband’s family are fake, or bad, or something, and eventually we meet Roxy and Isabel’s family as well, because we needed even more characters to lose track of. No events seem to lead into the other, with individual scenes seemingly having little to do with the other ones. Individual scenes in this film do work, although without a connection between them or a reason to care, the film itself never comes together.
Oh, another subplot involves an American writer, Olivia (Glenn Close), who also, at one point, had an affair with Edgar. But we meet her before meeting Edgar, and she seems to be friends with Roxy. I guess we’re just supposed to assume that coincidence allows this to be, but without any payoff in her storyline, I must question her inclusion. She does nothing but sit and talk with characters, and the relationship with Edgar doesn’t even factor in. There’s too much going on, and I did not care about any of it.
Anyone going into this film expecting a nice romantic comedy is going to be disappointed; it fails in both aspects. It is not once funny, and it is only sporadically romantic — if you can call affairs, mistresses and divorce “romantic.” It may have been advertised as a funny, gentle romance film, but the ads are misleading. Instead, it wants to show us how the American and French cultures are so different from one another, but apart from a couple of situations and a few lines of dialogue, it fails to do even this.
What’s worst of all is that because there are so many plots that need to be tied up (most of them are, even if a couple are not), Le Divorce ends up taking up two hours of your life. I didn’t care about a single thing in this film, and it wants to make me spend two hours watching it struggle to do anything of importance, significance or interest. It ends up just wasting a ton of time meandering around because it feels the need to draw out a plot that should take 90 minutes maximum to finish, and then it ends abruptly and without much closure.
Le Divorce is a horrible film, devoid of life, joy, romance, wit, and a point. It needed to be trimmed down by at least 30 minutes, it needed to remove most of its trivial and needles subplots, and it needed characters we cared about. If it tried to do anything, it tried to contrast the American and French societies. But if that’s what it goal was, it needed to actually mention that more than a few times throughout, and have the characters experience that idea instead of having random people mention it offhand. This is a worthless film that wasted (what felt like 4) hours of my life.
Read the original review at: Le Divorce (2003)