Anything goes as The Movie Pool looks at the Blu-ray release of De-Lovely, the Cole Porter story!
ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1 enhanced for widescreen televisions
RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes
AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround, French 5.1 Dolby Digital
SUBTITLES: English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
AUDIO COMMENTARIES: Two commentaries are included, one with director Irwin Winkler and actor Kevin Kline, and another with Irwin Winkler and writer Jay Cocks
SPECIAL FEATURES: "Making of De-Lovely" Featurette, "Music of De-Lovely" Featurette, "Anatomy of a Scene: Be a Clown" Featurette, "Anatomy of a Scene: Love For Sale" Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Trailer
The life of singer/songwriter Cole Porter is told through a unique series of flashbacks. Kevin Kline plays Cole Porter, Ashley Judd plays his wife, Linda, and a number of real singers, including Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, and Robbie Williams, all appear as performers to tell Porter's story through his songs.
Most people know the legendary Cole Porter by his music. Fewer know his life story, which is why I was really interested in seeing De-Lovely, which I missed when it was in theaters. Unfortunately, when it comes to details of Porter's life, ignorance is bliss. Which is really the main problem with De-Lovely.
I'm not saying De-Lovely is a bad film, in fact, it's quite good, at least in the technical execution. However, when you are telling the story of unlikeable person, especially a true story, it's hard to find a sympathetic audience. Unlike his music, Porter was a dark, selfish, egotistical, morally disjointed fellow. Worse yet, he wasn't even interesting. Try though he might, Kevin Kline can't find any decent part of this man's soul to grab on to and make appealing. Instead, we get the sordid details of his life mixed in with his wonderful music. It makes for a very odd pairing.
There are two big minuses for the film. First is the choice to tell Porter's story as if he is looking back at his life and commenting on it, similar to what Kevin Spacey did in telling Bobby Darin's story in Beyond the Sea. The technique is understandable; it helps to smooth over the poor choices Porter made in his life and the cast breaks into song to try at an upbeat ending. It doesn't save the movie from feeling like a big let down. The second minus is Ashley Judd as Linda, Porter's wife. Pretty though she is, she's bland and doesn't have the acting chops to keep up with Kline and the rest of the cast. She's woefully out of place here.
While this film may not warrant repeat viewings, because it is a true story fileld with some exceptional music, it's worth taking in once. Just don't expect to like the person Cole Porter was, or look forward to an upbeat ending.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
De-Lovely sports an excellent high-definition video transfer. There are a number of exotic locales and exquisite art-deco inspired sets, and they are rendered in fantastic detail. For a 2004 film, you expect a decent picture, and you get it here. There is some film grain present, however, but it is not distracting.
The 5.1 DTS sound mix is perhaps the best thing about this movie, as it brings the songs and the performances to multi-channel life. This is a very nice soundtrack, and both voices and the orchestral score are clear and deep.
The special features here are brought over from the special edition DVD released several years ago, but it is a healthy amount of extras. The commentaries are very good, and most of the special features focus on the music, which is nice, because it is the best thing about the movie.
BUY IT, REDBOX IT, OR NETFLIX IT?
OVERALL GRADE: B
Despite the obvious talent involved and the subject matter, I was expecting an uplifting story with some great music. Unfortunately, Cole Porter's life story is hardly a fluffy dream. It makes for a downer of a movie. However, the performances (and Winkler's direction) are well-done, and for anyone interested in Porter or the music of the time, this is worth a watch. I can't recommend it as a buy, despite the nice Blu-ray presentation we are given here. I do recommend a rent or putting it in your Netflix queue.
De-Lovely is now available on Blu-ray from Fox Home Video.