Intolerable Cruelty (DVD, 2004, Full Frame Edition) Reviews
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Intolerable Cruelty (DVD, 2004, Full Frame Edition)

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More Fun Than a Barrel of Divorce Lawyers

Oct 11, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great acting, funny script

Cons:Sincere sincerity among the insincere is sincerely a tough sell

The Bottom Line: If you like the Coens, are divorced, have ever been divorced, think you might become divorced in the future, or just want to have some fun, check this one out.


Meet Miles Massey, Divorce attorney extraordinaire, keynote speaker at N.O.M.A.N. (the national association for divorce attorneys). Mr. Massey is so successful that they teach classes based on his work and his (near patented) Massey prenuptual agreement is the basis for which all other prenups aspire to become: ironclad and unbreakable. He is such a great divorce attorney that no matter what you do, he will get you what you ask for in a settlement.

Enter Marylin Rexroth. Mrs. Rexroth is the wife of Rex Rexroth, a very wealthy man who has just been caught with his pants down and he wants Miles to represent him. Marylin seems to have Mr. Rexroth in quite a bit of a bind though and is likely to nail his a-s.

Miles falls for Marylin in the course of the divorce proceedings. He piques Marylin's interest. Things start to get complicated...


I have to say that I found this film to be a hoot! Once it is set that Miles will say or do anything to get his clients off and to get them to have him represent him, you know that you can't take what he is saying too seriously and so reading between the lines makes for some great gags. When you find out that Marylin is a high-class golddigger, the same thing applies. When she appears the most sincere, that is when I was really rolling because obviously she is just setting the other guy up.

What works best about this film is simply the acting. One of my pet peeves is that most of the time when actors act as characters that are acting (or are con artists, lawyers, or anyone that banks on their sincerity), even if they are playing really good actors, they give the audience a sort of slight phoneyness as if to convince the audience that in fact they are only acting like they are acting (when in fact they are acting like they are acting like they are acting). Essentially, since they give the audience the heads up that they aren't really serious, it undermines the ability for an audience (me at least) to take their abilities in their chosen profession seriously

George Clooney doesn't do this. His Miles Massey combines a sense of overwhelming sincerity and complete confidence with a bit of ingratiating smarmyness really works wonders and you really believe that he is good enough to pull it over on the competition. Instead of acting like he is acting, he pulls out all of the punches to make his character as good as he is at acting and he is very good (better than I had thought in the past) so Miles is very good.

Catherine Zeta-Jones does the same with her golddigging Marylin Rexroth. It is revealed early on that her big purpose in marriage is for the money (or security/to be her own person) so we know that she just isn't being sincere when she displays emotion and this inside information makes her seemingly sincere bursts of emotion seem ludicrous (and very funny) in spite of the fact that they really do seem to be genuine.

The film has some amusing twists and some pretty funny supporting characters, including Miles' sometimes overeager, overemotional partner, Marylin's husbands, and Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy.

The only problem that I had with the film was that since both Clooney and Zeta-Jones were playing their parts to the hilt, when the film tried to turn the corner to make their emotions genuine (as opposed to just seeming genuine), it was a pretty tough sell and I had a bit of trouble buying it. Since they seemed so dang sincere throughout the film when we the audience knew they weren't, buying their sincere sincerity is a bit much.

In spite this though, there was a lot of fun to be had with the film and I would recommend checking it out, especially if you have had problems with divorce or attorneys or divorce attorneys.


Recommend this product? Yes

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