De-Lovely is a 2004 American/British musical biographical film directed by Irwin Winkler. The screenplay by Jay Cocks is based on the life and career of Cole Porter, from his first meeting with Linda Lee Thomas in 1918 until moments before his death in 1964. It is the second biopic about the composer, following the sanitized Night and Day released in 1946.
According to Winkler's commentary on the DVD release of the film, he had considered numerous actresses for the role of Linda when Ashley Judd's agent advised him she was interested in the part. Winkler was certain her salary demand would exceed that allowed by the budget, but the actress was so anxious to portray Linda she was willing to lower her usual asking price. Judd is twenty years younger than Kline, although the composer's wife was eight years older than he.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. It was shown at the CineVegas International Film Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival before going into limited release in the US. The film grossed $13,337,299 in the US and $5,059,083 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $18,396,382 .
Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "The movie never gels - despite Kline's nuanced performance, the stars' exquisite period clothes designed by Armani, and, of course, Porter's great songs. Director Irwin Winkler's highly stylized technique is difficult to connect with emotionally. His film also suffers from shockingly sloppy editing for a studio production. If nothing else, the composer . . . deserves a movie that has rhythm. But De- Lovely lurches along like a car with a missing spark plug."
In Rolling Stone, Peter Travers rated the film three out of a possible four stars and commented, "In voice, manner, patrician charm and private torment, Kevin Kline is perfection as legendary composer Cole Porter . . . At its best, De-Lovely evokes a time, a place and a sound with stylish wit and sophistication."
Steve Persall of the St. Petersburg Times graded the film C- and observed, "The movie is actually an ugly compilation of clashing cinematic styles occasionally salvaged by musical numbers that essentially are part of the problem. You can't make a good movie about a 1930s composer using a 1970s film conceit while hiring 21st century recording artists to perform Porter's classic songs. A tribute CD, maybe, but not a movie . . . [it] plays like a cabaret review rather than a motion picture, a sublime collection of songs linked by scripted banter barely scratching the surface of its subject. Not delightful, not delicious, just disappointing."
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