The city of love becomes the city of heartache in the romantic comedy/drama, “Le Divorce.” With Paris as the backdrop, this Merchant-Ivory production amusingly illuminates the differences between French and American cultures yet lacks the conventional magic that comes with a foreign setting.

John Becic
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
Did you watch that tape I left out?

Roxeanne (Naomi Watts) is an American poet living in Paris with her French husband, Charles-Henri (Melvil Poupaud) and their young daughter. She is pregnant when her husband unsympathetically leaves her for another woman. Luckily, and unluckily, Roxanne’s sister Isabel (Kate Hudson) arrives just in time to provide some comfort and create new problems of her own.

As the lackluster divorce storyline progresses, Isabel finds herself romantically attracted to the handsome but married uncle of her sister’s soon to be ex-husband.

The interaction between French and American characters is the film’s backbone and proves to be quite entertaining. However, the piece on a whole is often dull and all-too lengthy, arriving at no satisfying conclusion.

Perhaps the downfall of “Le Divorce” comes from the surprisingly weak acting by both Watts and Poupaud. Their dialogue comes out forced and overemphasized. Poupaud’s interpretation of Charles-Henri never rises above one dimensional, showcasing the acting chops of an extra rather than star.

The most incongruent and annoying part of the 117 minutes is a scene near the end where Isabel’s handbag floats through the skies of Paris. Such digital animation is out of place in this realistic feature and the brief one-time narration by Isabel also feels wholly inconsistent.

A disappointment for those looking to fall in love with Paris, “Le Divorce” is a reminder that even the romance capital of the world is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

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