Written by Jay Cocks
Directed by Irwin Winkler
Starring Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd, Jonathan Pryce, Kevin McNally, Sandra Nelson, Robbie Williams, Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, and Diana Krall
- Running audio commentary with director Winkler and actor Kline
- Running audio commentary with director Winkler and writers Cocks
- Making-of and music featurettes
- Anatomy of a Scene: Be a Clown
- Anatomy of a Scene: Love for Sale
- Deleted Scenes
Released by: MGM Home Entertainment
My Advice: If you are a fan of the Musical Theatre, it’s probably already on your shelf
Cole Porter (Kline) lived an amazing life. He was the epitome of wit, charm, and the highlife. Not only that, he was an incredibly gifted songwriter and lyricist. It seems that the Archangel Gabriel (Pryce) is going to take him on a little journey down memory lane before he’s allowed into Heaven. With Gabe acting as the director of this grand show, he and Cole sit in an empty theatre watching the events of his life play out before them; now narrating the story, now commenting on Cole’s life. It’s a…pardon the pun…lovely, albeit bittersweet, look at his life and his relationship with this life Linda (Judd).
This is one of the best written screenplays of 2004. It’s one of those rare films that can reach in, grab your heart, and squeeze it so hard, you’ll ache by the time the credits roll. What makes it such a tight screenplay? The narration/commentary with Cole and Gabe is perfectly placed and timed to either smother you deeper in the feeling of the scene or to pull you just far enough out of it to allow you to make up your own mind about the life that Cole lived. It makes no statement about Cole’s bi-sexuality, it simply presents it as fact and lets you deal with it in whatever way is right for you. It doesn’t throw it in your face or try too hard at making a statement. This is a lesson I wish more people in Hollywood could learn about making movies.
Kline is, of course, perfect. He and Judd have an amazing chemistry on screen that is the salt that accidently got spilled in the molasses. The soundtrack is absolute perfection and not just because it’s Porter’s music. As Gabe says at the beginning of the movie, Porter’s music is our guide through his life. No, what makes this soundtrack so wonderful are the performers they employed to sing his music. Morissette’s rendition of “Let’s Fall in Love” is not to be missed.
The DVD is up to the challenge of supporting such a film. First of all, there are two commentary tracks each of them featuring the director in a different conversation with key players in the film. Both are oustanding and should not be missed. There are also two different “Anatomy of a Scene” featurettes. These move a bit slowly, but if you are really into the behind the scenes stuff, you can’t get much better than these. Imagine a standard-length featurette that focuses only on one particular scene in the movie. These are so nice and meaty, I’m just glad that they didn’t decide to slack off with the other two featurettes on the disc.
Rather than focusing on interviews with the cast about how wonderful it was to work with each other, they focused on…stay with me here…the life of Cole Porter and how to best transfer the story of his life to film. The other featurette focuses on Porter’s music and interviews with the musicians who were tasked with bringing his music to life for the film. The one thing that is apparent in this featurette is the honor that the musicians have for this man’s music.
If you haven’t already gone out and gotten it to add to your collection of musical theatre DVDs, I suggest you do that now.