There’s a familiar lyric in Cole Porter’s
“Anything Goes” that states, “I understand the
reason why you’re sentimental, ’cause so am I,
it’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s
de-lovely.” This seems to be the mantra of Irwin
Winkler’s new film, “De-Lovely,” a fanciful and
nostalgic look at one of America’s greatest songwriters, Cole
Porter.

The film recounts the life of Porter, played marvelously by
Kevin Kline (“The Emperor’s Club”), and his life
as if it were being performed like one of his stage shows. In fact,
there is a song or musical performance in almost every scene of
this film. Still Porter’s music dictated his life and,
consequently, the course of this film, and it is a delight to
watch.

Some of the movie’s best scenes involve the various
celebrity singers performing their interpretations of
Porter’s songs. Robbie Williams and Alanis Morissette are
stand-outs, as is Elvis Costello. Kline himself does a fair amount
of singing in the film, and he is poignant and impressive in his
imitation of Porter’s historically mediocre singing
voice.

The film centers on the relationship between Porter and his
wife, Linda (Ashley Judd), but much of this plot is glossed over
and given the “love-lite” treatment. Porter, a known
homosexual, was actively involved with several men while the two
were married, and although Linda knew about this, she loved Porter
enough to look past it. If Winkler and screenwriter Jay Cocks
(“Gangs of New York”) had delved the
relationship’s obvious complexities, as well as how many of
Porter’s love songs were not about Linda at all, there might
be significantly more drama to the story.

Instead, the film is glossy and sentimental, brushing past many
problems the two had in favor of splashy musical numbers. Even
though it is a much lighter approach, it does not deter from what
was most important to Porter — his music.

The joy Porter’s music brought to people no doubt
overshadows the sadness and confusion that marred his personal
life. It seems Winkler has taken a the high road, delivering a very
entertaining musical comedy not unlike one of Porter’s
shows.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.