Le Divorce (2003)


(out of 5)

In this latest offering from the team of Merchant Ivory, a young American woman () arrives in Paris to be with her newly pregnant sister (), a poet who lives in the fair city with her French painter husband.  Hudson’s arrival is greeted with the husband’s departure when he decides to leave Watts for another woman; she tries to be supportive of her now-abandoned sister, but can’t help but be taken in by the magnificence of Paris and in particular the opportunity to become the mistress of an older, conservative politician (). The politician is related to Watts’ ex-husband, unfortunately, and their relationship might screw up the process of the divorce, the central argument of which is the ownership of a priceless painting that Watts brought into the marriage but now might be split up between them. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala maintains her ability to put marvelously intelligent dialogue on the big screen, but the storyline of this film is muddled and the tone unsure of itself; while playing like an effortlessly witty comedy, it is for the most part a dull drama with a very underdeveloped sense of fun, which then turns into a story of intrigue in its last third before settling into an out of place and rushed ending. Supporting cast members , ,  and especially  contribute a healthy sense of class to the experience, but Hudson’s miscasting in the lead sticks out like a sore thumb and you spend the whole time wishing the film was more about her much more interesting sister (Watts is, quite simply, flawless).

Merchant Ivory Productions, Radar Pictures

France/USA, 2003

Directed by

Screenplay by , James Ivory, based on the novel by

Cinematography by

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

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