Culture

Vanity fare

Culture

Issue: "California's wall of fire," Nov. 8, 2003

Joel and Ethan Coen are known for making idiosyncratic, brilliant films such as O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and Fargo (1996), as well as perhaps the best crime film ever, Miller's Crossing (1990). In Intolerable Cruelty's witty battle of the sexes, George Clooney plays a vain, smooth-talking, money-loving divorce lawyer who finds that success doesn't satisfy. He falls for a beautiful, money-loving woman (Catherine Zeta-Jones) too clever by far to fall for a Joe Millionaire, and too smart to believe that the millions she hopes to gain in a divorce settlement will make her truly happy.

Since Intolerable Cruelty is a romantic comedy, the characters eventually resolve their differences and live happily ever after, but not until the film skewers the modern institution of easy marriage and divorce. There's no nudity or bloody violence, but some will want to stay away from the film because it does show a few scantily clad women and contains some sexual innuendo and bad language. Others, though, will enjoy these world-weary characters drawn straight from Ecclesiastes. Although they ultimately find meaning in love rather than God (isn't that what happens in romantic comedies?), the film's creators do a rip-roaring, if sometimes tongue-in-cheek, job of tearing down many idols of modern culture.

Overall, the movie is great fun to watch and, in a clever way, defends marriage and attacks adultery. In today's Hollywood environment, it rarely gets any better than this. Since the movie targets much that most WORLD readers dislike, it puts us in the pleasant and unusual position of being aligned with those aiming the darts and not those being hit.

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Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.

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