Uh oh – damning a comedy by faint praise corner again. That can only mean the Coen Brothers or the Farrell Brothers have a movie out. It is the former, with their – gasp – first film from a second hand script. Wot they rewrote. And before I go on and tell you why it is rubbish or do those things that reviews of comedies do to make them sound disappointing, let me state this here.


There. Got that. So when I say that George Clooney’s comic acting seems stuck in perennially goofy mode this is not to counter the fact that GEORGE CLOONEY IS FUCKING FUNNY IN THIS FILM. When I mention that there is true, zingy chemistry between Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney, and sometimes you wonder what they could do with a truly romantic comedy that is in addition to saying that THE DECIDEDLY NASTY PREMISE AND SET-UP OF INTOLERABLE CRUELTY IS FUCKING FUNNY. Just because I haven’t spent a separate sentence as long as the George Clooney one saying how good Catherine Zeta-Jones is in this role goes no way to counter the fact that CATHERINE ZETA-JONES DEVOURS THIS ROLE WITH SO MUCH FUN AND GUSTO THAT YOU CANNOT HELP ENJOY YOURSELF. And certainly just because this is seen as the most mainstream film the Coen Brothers have made should be no reason to think that it isn’t THE FUNNIEST FILM I HAVE SEEN THIS YEAR.

Right, you get the drift. I actually disagree with a lot of what the critics have said about Intolerable Cruelty, it is oddly the Coen Brothers film which most eradicates some of their more annoying tendencies. Whilst it is a film which has a ridiculously cold-hearted and cynical premise, it is the most warm-hearted and generous film they have ever made. I don’t actually agree that this film has the most mainstream setting, Millers Crossing conformed to so many more Hollywood gangster trappings. And oddly by setting it in the now, the Coens finally escape the charge of pasticheurs that often dogs them. There may be hints in the dialogue to Hawks and Sturges, but by liberating this from a period setting it finally seems uniquely theirs. Possibly one of the benefits of working from an original story is that they could spend more time buffing up their gags (which are good) without the plot spiraling out of control. It does no-one any favours to compare Intolerable Cruelty to those previous films which we have loved and seen over and over. Coen movies mature, not only in time but when they are not being watched. Intolerable Cruelty may not mature so well, because it has most of its goodness on the screen.

Right, that was the serious paragraph out of the way. Remember. INTOLERABLE CRUELTY IS FUCKING FUNNY.