Hitherto, notwithstanding the odd lift from Sturges and Capra, Hammett and Homer, the Coen Brothers have always worked from their own material. Here, however, they've taken and tampered with what could have been a reasonable, if fairly standard script for one of those Hawksian screwball romances where the love impulse is expressed through conflict. Some have been unimpressed by the result, which is admittedly broader than the the brother' finest work, but the movie still has that Coen feeling - in spades. As hotshot Beverly Hills divorce lawyer Miles Massey (Clooney) and gold-digging divorcee Marylin Rexroth (Zeta-Jones) lock horns in a thoroughly amoral battle of wills, wealth, deceit and desire, the Coens provide a distinctively wacky series of variations on generic themes, not only by seasoning the script with typically over-ornate and/or absurd dialogue ('Objection, your honour - he's strangling the witness!'), but by hyping up the Hollywood clichés with deliciously ironic over-the-top direction. Far from striking a note of redemption, for example, Massey's 'Changed Man' speech (sappy, horrendously attenuated hogwash from start to finish) is simply the clearest example of the movie's refusal to entertain the idea of including even a single second of heartfelt emotion. The leads strike just the right note of callow glamour, and receive admirable support from Rush's daytime TV sleazebag, Cedric the Entertainer's ass-nailer, and Thornton's ineffably boring Doyle of Doyle Oil. Those unable to appreciate the unashamedly absolute cynicism will almost certainly include Simon and Garfunkel fans, but I for one found it inventive and hilarious.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen|
Cedric the Entertainer
Billy Bob Thornton