Intolerable Cruelty

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Intolerable Cruelty
Man in a grey suit, standing beside a woman in a red dress.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
(uncredited)
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Robert Ramsay
  • Matthew Stone
  • Ethan Coen
  • Joel Coen
Story by
  • Robert Ramsay
  • Matthew Stone
  • John Romano
Starring
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Edited by Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
(as Roderick Jaynes)
Production
  company
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s)
  • October 10, 2003 (2003-10-10)
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[1]
Box office $120,217,409[2]

Intolerable Cruelty is a 2003 romantic black comedy film about divorce and lawyers, set in Los Angeles. The film was co-written, produced, edited and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer, and Paul Adelstein. The film was released by Universal Pictures.

Plot[edit]

Donovan Donaly (Geoffrey Rush) a TV soap opera producer, comes home early and finds his wife Bonnie (Stacey Travis) with her ex-boyfriend, Ollie (Jack Kyle). Bonnie hires Miles Massey (George Clooney), a top divorce attorney and the inventor of the "Massey pre-nup", a completely foolproof prenuptial agreement. Miles wins the divorce case, leaving Donaly with nothing.

Private investigator Gus Petch (Cedric The Entertainer) is tailing the wealthy and married Rex Rexroth (Edward Herrmann on a drunken night out with a blonde. When they stop at a motel, Gus bursts in and tapes them with a video camera. He takes the evidence of infidelity to Rex's wife, Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whose primary motivation is obtaining wealth and independence via divorce. Rex hires Miles, and Marylin's friend, a serial divorcée named Sarah Sorkin (Julia Duffy), warns Marilyn that Miles will be a dangerous opponent.

Marylin and her lawyer, Freddy Bender (Richard Jenkins), fail to reach an agreement with Miles and Rex. Bored Miles asks the fascinating Marylin to dinner, where they flirt. In court, Miles gets the Baron Krauss von Espy (Jonathan Hadary) to testify that Marylin had asked him to point out a man she could marry who was very rich, easily manipulated, and likely to be unfaithful. Marylin winds up with nothing, and Miles's aged boss, Herb Myerson (Tom Aldredge), congratulates him.

Marylin wants revenge, and finds broke soap-producer Donaly living on the street, still clutching his Emmy statuette. Soon after, Marylin shows up at Miles's office with a person she says is her new fiancé, supposedly an oil millionaire named Howard D. Doyle (Billy Bob Thornton). Marylin insists on the Massey prenup, but Miles sees Howard destroy it during the wedding, in a demonstration of love.

Visiting Las Vegas to give the keynote address at a convention for divorce attorneys, Miles bumps into Marylin, who says she is now disenchanted with her wealthy but lonely life, having divorced Howard and received the vast Doyle Oil fortune. Miles is thrilled, and they marry on the spur of the moment. He signs the Massey prenup, but she tears it up. The next morning a disheveled Miles announces at the convention that love is the most important thing, and that he is abandoning divorce suits in favor of pro-bono work.

Then Miles discovers that "Howard D. Doyle" was just an actor from one of Donaly's soap operas. Marylin has tricked him, and now his wealth is at risk. Miles' boss demands that something be done to save the firm's reputation, and suggests the hitman "Wheezy Joe" (Irwin Keyes), who Miles hires to kill Marilyn.

Miles then learns that Marylin's ex-husband Rex has died without changing his will, leaving her millions. Miles rushes to save his wife from the hitman, but Marilyn has already agreed to pay him double to kill Miles instead. There is a struggle and in the confusion Wheezy Joe mistakes his gun for his asthma inhaler, and kills himself.

Later, Miles, Marylin and their lawyers meet to negotiate a divorce. Miles pleads for a second chance and retroactively signs a Massey prenup. She tears it up, and they kiss. Marylin tells Miles that she has suggested an idea to Donaly for a TV show: Gus Petch becomes the host of a big hit, America's Funniest Divorce Videos.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Intolerable Cruelty's screenplay was written by Robert Ramsey and Matt Stone and then refashioned by the Coen Brothers in the mid 1990s. Initially the screenplay was attached to Ron Howard and then Jonathan Demme, who had planned to cast Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in the lead roles.[3] After their planned film of James Dickey's novel To The White Sea fell through, the Coens signed on to direct.[3]

Reception[edit]

The film received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "Certified Fresh" score of 75% based on reviews from 180 critics.[4] Metacritic gives a weighted average score of 71% based on reviews from 40 critics.

Soundtrack[edit]

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Intolerable Cruelty
Soundtrack album by Carter Burwell and various artists
Released October 7, 2003
Genre Film score
pop, blues
Length 50:50
Label Hip-O
Coen Brothers film soundtracks chronology
The Man Who Wasn't There
(2001)
Intolerable Cruelty
(2003)
The Ladykillers
(2004)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars
Movie Music UK 4/5 stars[5]
SoundtrackNet 3.5/5 stars[6]

Intolerable Cruelty is scored by Carter Burwell, in his tenth collaboration with the Coen Brothers.

The soundtrack album features a variety pop songs and cues from Burwell's score. "The Boxer", first by Simon and Garfunkel and then as covered by Colin Linden, opens and closes the album. A Canadian blues musician, Linden had previously participated in Down from the Mountain, a live performance of music from the Coens' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and he performs several songs in the film. Other songs include "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley, "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" by Édith Piaf and "Glory of Love" by Big Bill Broonzy.

Tracks by Carter Burwell unless otherwise noted.
  1. "The Boxer" (Simon and Garfunkel) – 5:09
  2. "Intolerable Mambo – 1:41
  3. "Suspicious Minds" (Elvis Presley) – 4:33
  4. "Hanky Panky Choo Choo" – 2:07
  5. "Don't Cry Out Loud" (Melissa Manchester) – 3:48
  6. "Feels So Good" (Chuck Mangione) – 9:42
  7. "You Fascinate Me" – 1:40
  8. "April Come She Will" (written by Paul Simon, performed by Colin Linden) – 0:59
  9. "Heather 2 Honeymoon" – 1:39
  10. "If I Only Knew" (Tom Jones) – 4:18
  11. "Love Is Good" – 3:26
  12. "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" (Édith Piaf) – 2:21
  13. "No More Working" – 3:01
  14. "Fully Exposed" – 1:46
  15. "Glory of Love" (Big Bill Broonzy) – 2:20
  16. "The Boxer" (Colin Linden) – 2:20

References[edit]

  1. ^ Intolerable Cruelty: The Numbers
  2. ^ "Intolerable Cruelty (2003)". Box Office Mojo. 
  3. ^ a b Walters, Ben (November 2003). "Bringing up alimony". Sight and Sound (British Film Institute (BFI)) 13 (11): 30. ISSN 0037-4806. 
  4. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/intolerable_cruelty/
  5. ^ Moviemusicuk.us
  6. ^ Soundtrack.net

External links[edit]