11
Oct 04

Delovely has a problem at its core

Do You SeePost a comment • 303 views

Delovely has a problem at its core, which scuppers the whole biographical process. Cole Porter’s songs were not autobiographical. Generally they were written for musicals, where the songs helped tell the story, a story which was quite unlike his life. For all the great stand out tracks he wrote which may work outside of the context of these musicals, there is never really a suggestion that he was ever really plumbing the depths of his soul for resonance. Delovely, in attempting to tell Porter’s life through his songs shoehorns, refits and attempts to allude significance into the most throwaway lines. Not least the “on screen director” of the film of the life turning out to be the Angel Gabriel just so the film can end with Blow Gabriel Blow.

The conceit of on-screen director/angel Jonathon Pryce, and the bickering between Kevin Kline’s Porter foreshadows technique over content. Screen musicals still seem to have to apologise for even existing, and as in Chicago, the songs take second fiddle to telling the story. So people talk over the songs, they are slid in as backing music and only two or three times are there ever anything that could be called big production numbers (inexplicably the Anything Goes sequence uses the NT production set, but rechoreographs it badly to make us wonder what the fuss was ever about). The film fails as a musical and is too sketchy for a bio-pic. What is more the entire budget seems to have gone on Kevin Kline’s old man make-up. Which is all well and good except that no-one else in the film seems to age anywhere near as much, Ashley Judd’s one concession to the aging process is a few wrinkles around the eyes and a grey streak. Delovely is derubbish unfortunately.

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