Le divorce

August 29th, 2003


Le divorce

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Still of Kate Hudson in Le divorceStill of Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts in Le divorceKate Hudson at event of Le divorceStill of Sam Waterston, Kate Hudson, Thomas Lennon and Naomi Watts in Le divorceStill of Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts in Le divorceStill of Kate Hudson in Le divorce

French vs. American social customs and behaviors are observed in a story about an American visiting her Frenchman-wed sister in Paris.

Release Year: 2003

Rating: 4.9/10 (7,103 voted)

Critic's Score: 51/100

Director: James Ivory

Stars: Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Stockard Channing

French vs. American social customs and behaviors are observed in a story about an American visiting her Frenchman-wed sister in Paris.

Writers: Diane Johnson, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Kate Hudson - Isabel Walker
Jean-Marie Lhomme - Immigration Officer
Naomi Watts - Roxeanne de Persand
Esmée Buchet-Deàk - Gennie de Persand
Jean-Jacques Pivert - Talkative Shopkeeper
Melvil Poupaud - Charles-Henri de Persand
Catherine Samie - Madame Florian
Samuel Labarthe - Antoine de Persand
Leslie Caron - Suzanne de Persand
Thierry Lhermitte - Edgar Cosset
Nathalie Richard - Charlotte de Persand
Samuel Gruen - de Persand Child
Peter Wyckoff - de Persand Child
Sandrel Lonnoy - Maid
Glenn Close - Olivia Pace

Taglines: A comedy of manners...both good and bad.


Official Website: Fox Searchlight Pictures | Merchant Ivory Production |

Release Date: 29 August 2003

Filming Locations: Café de Flore - 172 boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris 6, Paris, France

Opening Weekend: $516,834 (USA) (10 August 2003) (34 Screens)

Gross: $9,074,550 (USA) (26 October 2003)

Technical Specs

Runtime: USA:

Did You Know?

The painting sold before Roxy's LaTour is Claude-Joseph Vernet's "La Nuit, au Port au Clair de Lune", which is in the Louvre's permanent collection.

Continuity: When Isabel and Edgar have their last outing together, Isabel is clearly wearing red nail lacquer in the restaurant. When they say goodbye outside, her nails are no longer red.

Olivia Pace: Today, they are victms, tomorrow, who knows? Because the world is ruled by hawks and arms dealers and minority phobias.

User Review

A genuine Georges De la Tour painting!

Rating: 7/10

It's amusing to read some of the comments in this page of IMDb. Most postings place the blame for what they perceive as the failure of this picture on James Ivory, Ismael Merchant and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the successful creative team of some of the best movies of recent years. In fact, the sin they appear to have committed was to adapt the Diane Johnson's novel about the contrasts she has always written about between two cultures that should be more similar: the French and American, yet, as we read in the book, and now watched in the film, they are not as close as one would imagine.

First, the French one sees portrayed in the film belong to the high classes that are imbued in their traditions, savoir faire, their sense of style and being B.C.B.G., something the Americans, being somehow a new society without those traditions cannot comprehend. Money is a taboo subject to be spoken at all by the wealthy French, whereas in America the flaunting of having made fortunes and having millions is an everyday subject for the higher ups.

Ms. Johnson, who has lived in France for quite some time, is an observant of that society. In her many books about life in that country, the study in the contrasts she sees, are at center stage and the mixing of Americans with the French bourgeoisie produces surprising results that make the reading of her novels more compelling for the joy they bring to her readers.

Isabel, the young American, arriving to stay with her sister Roxanne, takes easily to the new surroundings. In doing so, she completely disregards the established rules when she enters in a liaison with Marc-Henri, who sees the occasion as one for amusing himself for a while. Roxanne, on the other hand, soon discovers what she is against when her French husband decides to ask her for a divorce. Little has prepared her for the consequences that go with it and the archaic laws about a couple's separation in that country, which benefits the husband while punishing the wife.

The other theme at the core of the story is a painting Roxanne has brought with her from San Diego. The possibility of it being a real Delacroix is now at the center of the divorce settlement. Where one can see it has nothing to do with the cheating husband, Suzanne, the mother-in-law deems otherwise because of the possible value the painting will fetch when it's sold.

Naomi Watts makes another great contribution in her appearance as Roxanne. Kate Hudson is not in the same league, although her good looks and natural charm makes one care more for her Isabel. The delicious Leslie Caron plays Madame de Persand with great panache. Just watching her remarking about the granulated sugar Charlotte offers her to sweeten her tea is one of the delights of the film. Tierry Lhermitte is seen as the callous Edgar. Glenn Close plays Olivia Pace, a writer,who might be Diane Johnson's alter ego in the story. Stephen Fry, Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston, and the rest of the French and American cast do a good job.

This film has a feeling of being more French than some French movies. The cinematography of Pierre Lhomme is wonderful as he takes his camera all over the city showing us what a treat it is to be in Paris, even for a visit. The other thing that comes across is the involvement of the late Ismail Marchant to the production. Mr. Merchant got great locales in where to film and had a great eye for the style of the pictures he was producing. His absence, alas, is sadly missed from the latest James Ivory project "The White Countess".

In spite of not being up to some of his best movies, James Ivory still shows he has a keen eye for presenting the material on the screen.


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