Sunday, July 18, 2010

War of the Roses

War of the Roses; Black comedy, USA, 1989; D: Danny DeVito, S: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Marianne Sagebrecht, Dan Castellaneta

Lawyer Gavin tells a story about his most difficult case, the Rose family. A long time ago, lawyer Oliver and his wife Barbara were an ideal married couple, with two kids, good jobs and a great house. But 17 years later, something went wrong. After a heart attack, Oliver's relationship with Barbara started deteriorating more and more. He wanted a divorce, but they simply could not agree upon "splitting" the house. Their mutual attacks became more vicious with time: the first casualties were the dog and the cat, then the furniture and the Christmas tree and in the end sole Barbara and Oliver, after they crash with a chandelier.

Black comedy "War of the Roses" is the second dark directorial achievement by actor Danny DeVito about human nature, dealing here with the intolerance between a married couple to such an extent that its title became a slang term for aggressive divorce campaigns, yet the quality of the movie depends a lot about the sensitivity of the viewers to stomach some nasty moments, even though the author still somehow managed to avoid the mean-spirited tone at the end. The story flows smoothly, though it does not exceed the limits of a good film, with an honest approach, including some vulgar scenes, like "blocking" the nose in sleep or urinating on the fish, yet DeVito managed to stay inside the good taste (though more sophistication would have been welcomed), whereas energetic performances by Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner (both nominated for a Golden Globe) make the whole "marital conflict" even more watchable. Unlike other comedies that are fun to watch due to their humor, this one is almost unpleasant to watch because the humor always highlights the flaws of humans, while the tragic ending makes the whole story even slightly melodramatic.


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