|Directed by||James Ivory|
|Produced by||Ismail Merchant
|Screenplay by||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
|Based on||the novel by
|Music by||Richard Robbins|
|Editing by||John David Allen|
|Studio||Merchant Ivory Productions|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight|
|Release dates||August 8, 2003|
|Running time||117 minutes|
|Box office||$12,991,996 (worldwide)|
A young American woman called Isabel Walker (Kate Hudson) travels to Paris to visit her pregnant sister Roxy (Naomi Watts). Roxy's husband Charles-Henri left her for his married Russian lover, Magda Tellman. As Isabel secretly begins two affairs with French men from different social classes and Magda's husband begins harassing Roxy, the two families fight over the ownership rights of a long-lost masterpiece. Also in the film is Roxy's friend and Isabel's employer, Olivia Pace (Glenn Close), an American author who also had an affair with one of Isabel's lovers.
Isabel (Hudson) visits her sister, Roxeanne (Watts), a poet who is living in Paris with her husband, Charles-Henri, and her young daughter, Gennie. Roxy is pregnant, but her husband has just walked out on her. She holds the lie that he is "in the country" selling a painting. Isabel discovers the truth and agrees to go see Charles-Henri with Roxy to give him his contacts which he left behind.
Arriving, Charles-Henri makes an excuse to leave when Paris-based American author Olivia Pace (Close), a friend of Roxy's, arrives. Olivia offers Isabel a job which she takes. Later, the sisters go to the country to visit Charles-Henri's family for Sunday brunch. It is there that Isabel meets Charles-Henri's mother (Leslie Caron), along with Charles-Henri's uncle, Edgar.
Later, while helping Olivia, Isabel meets Yves, another one of Olivia's workers. The two have sex, and afterwards while watching television Isabel sees Edgar giving a speech and admits she is attracted to him. The two have lunch and begin an affair, but Isabel still strings Yves along. Edgar sends a Hermes Paris Kelly bag to Isabel, which is an expensive item Roxy knows Isabel can't afford, and Isabel tells Roxy of their affair.
Meanwhile, Roxy meets Charles-Henri's own mistress, Magda Tellman. Magda's husband, an American, begins to stalk Isabel's apartment complex. One afternoon, Roxy meets Charles-Henri at a park where Gennie rides a carousel. The two talk and Roxy says she doesn't want a divorce, but Charles-Henri does. Roxy admits she's been thinking about names and likes Henri-Luc. Charles-Henri is still not entertained and leaves. Later that evening, Isabel finds a bloody, unconscious Roxy on the sofa and calls an ambulance. Roxy lives and apologizes for her attempt at suicide and is aided by her lawyer.
Isabel calls the family to Paris to help with Roxy. This only further complicates things, especially when Edgar's wife, Amelie, discovers the affair through Edgar's sister and Roxy's mother-in-law. Along with this, Olivia's own long over affair with Edgar is exposed, and Charles-Henri is found dead, murdered by Magda Tellman's husband in a crime of passion. Mr. Tellman follows the Walkers up the Eiffel Tower where he corners them and pulls a gun, demanding to have an opportunity to explain to an absent Roxy why he killed her husband. After some persuasion, Tellman slides the gun over to Isabel who puts it in her Kelly bag before throwing it off the Eiffel Tower.
Subsequently, Edgar ends his affair with Isabel with a Chanel scarf and a blunt, brief lunch. Charles-Henri's mother still stays involved with her new grandson's life. Roxy marries her lawyer, Isabel begins a real relationship with Yves, and the family painting by La Tour of Saint Ursula sells for more than $4M. This prompts the family to begin a foundation named after Saint Ursula based in Paris.
- Kate Hudson – Isabel Walker
- Naomi Watts – Roxeanne de Persand
- Glenn Close – Olivia Pace
- Thierry Lhermitte – Edgar Cosset
- Melvil Poupaud – Charles-Henri de Persand
- Matthew Modine – Tellman
- Sam Waterston – Chester Walker
- Stockard Channing – Margeeve Walker
- Thomas Lennon – Roger Walker
- Jean-Marc Barr – Maitre Bertram
- Romain Duris – Yves
- Esmée Buchet-Deàk – Gennie de Persand
- Samuel Labarthe – Antoine de Persand
- Leslie Caron – Suzanne de Persand
- Nathalie Richard – Charlotte de Persand
- Bebe Neuwirth – Julia Manchevering
- Rona Hartner – Magda Tellman
- Stephen Fry – Piers Janely
Le Divorce was filmed in Paris at locations including Café de Flore, Tour Eiffel, Musée du Louvre and Salle Gaveau. The Eiffel Tower's elevators, stairways and various levels are seen extensively as one character pursues another near the end of the film.
Opening title music was Paul Misraki's "Qu'est-ce qu'on attend pour être heureux", sung by Patrick Bruel and Johnny Hallyday from Bruel's CD "Entre deux". End title music was Serge Gainsbourg's "L'Anamour", sung by Jane Birkin from her CD "Version Jane".
According to a Cannes 2011 interview with Producer Kai Wong, Hollywood legend Ismail Merchant had initially invited Natalie Portman but Portman was stressed out by academics at Harvard and engagement to George Lucas's Star Wars. Subsequently, Portman was replaced by Kate Hudson who gained popularity after a breakout role Almost Famous.
Kai Wong recounted an arduous production process, especially during the voice-dubbing period, because he had to schedule umpteenth sessions for Kate Hudson to eliminate her natural California Valley girl accent, for a more transatlantic accent. With patience, she succeeded in a role that was then greenlit by studio executives after many weeks of deliberation and market screenings.
Due to the weak market after September 11, 2001, Le Divorce was given an initial limited release on August 8, 2003 in 34 theaters where it grossed $516,834 on its opening weekend. It went into wide release on August 29, 2003 in 701 theaters where it grossed $1.5M on its opening weekend. The film went on to make $9 million in North America and $3.9M in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $12.9M.
Le Divorce received largely mixed to negative reviews. It has a 38% rating on a Rotten Tomatoes and a 51 metascore on Metacritic. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and felt that it did not "work on its intended level, because we don't care enough about the interactions of the enormous cast. But it works in another way, as a sophisticated and knowledgeable portrait of values in collision". In his review for the New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote, "As it is, Le Divorce is tasteful, but almost entirely without flavor. It is tough work to sit through a comedy made by filmmakers with so little sense of timing and no evident sense of humor". Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "I'm disappointed to report that Hudson and Watts have no chemistry as sisters, perhaps because Watts never seems like the expatriate artiste she's supposed to be playing". In his review for the Village Voice, David Ng wrote, "Indeed, featuring a boatload of intercontinental stars who have little to do, Le Divorce uncannily embodies its privileged bilingual milieu. At worst, it suggests a documentary of its own lavish wrap party". Premiere magazine's Glenn Kenny gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "the picture is a nice return to form for Ivory and company, as well as a welcome stretch for Kate Hudson, whose luminous talents, I fear, are going to be hidden under bushels of stupid Hollywood romantic comedies for the foreseeable future". In his review for The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris wrote, "The film's greatest achievement, however, is in keeping a dizzying variety of characters at odds with each other without any breach of good manners, and without descending to facile stereotypes and caricatures".
- "Le Divorce". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Ebert, Roger (August 8, 2003). "Le Divorce". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Scott, A.O (August 8, 2003). "Paris in the Summer, When It Sits There". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Gleiberman, Owen (August 5, 2003). "Le Divorce". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Ng, David (August 5, 2003). "To Have And To Mold". Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Kenny, Glenn (August 7, 2003). "Le Divorce". Premiere. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Sarris, Andrew (August 3, 2003). "Two Americans in Paris, Merchant-Ivory Style". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- Le Divorce at the Internet Movie Database
- Le Divorce at allmovie
- Le Divorce at Rotten Tomatoes
- Le Divorce at Metacritic
- Le Divorce at Box Office Mojo
- Official Site