One might expect the life of a music composer to be as vibrant and jubilant as the songs he writes. But the film De-Lovely reveals the personal history of Broadway legend Cole Porter to be sorely lacking the cheer of his unforgettable tunes. In it, a dying Porter (Kevin Kline) looks on as his life plays out before him as a musical on the stage and screen, one that focuses on his relationship with the divorced socialite Linda (Ashley Judd), who is so captivated by his engaging manner and musical genius that she overlooks his homosexuality and becomes his wife.
Musical numbers come early and often in De-Lovely. As the aging Cole watches his life unfold, even he balks at the number of times the characters break out into song. But Gabriel (Jonathan Pryce), the shows director and the only person able to speak to the decrepit songster, explains to Cole (and the films audience) that his music reveals the intricacies of his life better than anything else. And its truethe bright, breezy lyrics take on darker, more complex meanings. The approach is affecting, but its also a bit disheartening to gain this bleak understanding of the beloved standards. The style of the film, moving from the aging Cole to the staging of Coles young life, is a bit confusing and often jarring. Also jarring are the cameos by modern performers (such as Sheryl Crowe and Elvis Costello) singing Cole Porter tunes. Premiere Magazine