Director: James Ivory
After Winona Ryder and Natalie Portman bowed out of starring in this Merchant Ivory production of Diane Johnson’s novel, the casting director turned to Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson to play two American sisters in Paris. As Hudson’s Isabel arrives in the foreign land preparing to lend a hand to her pregnant poetess sister Roxanne (Watts), we discover that Roxy’s painter husband has abruptly decided to leave his wife for a married Russian woman. However, Le Divorce is not only tale of heartbreak but one that also celebrates the fluttering of new love on an adopted land as Hudson’s adventurous Isabel bed-hops from adorable young Frenchman Romain Duris (star of L’Auberge Espagnol and Russian Dolls), to becoming the mistress of one of Roxy’s in-laws, the prominent, older, married politician Thierry Lhermitte. Overall the film benefits largely from bubbly leading lady Hudson who does wonders to breathe extra life into this otherwise stiff but classy comedy drama. Watts is quite good as Roxy but without the insightful back-story of Johnson’s novel, we’re never quite with her on why she is so adamantly opposed to divorce and therefore struggle to understand her motives in remaining the wife of such a creep. Although the book did a far superior job of depicting the intense culture clash and hypocrisies faced by Americans in Paris including the double standards of gender and age, the film succeeds mightily on a purely aesthetic level thanks to the inclusion of gorgeous French scenery and a lively soundtrack. In addition to its two excellent leading ladies, Le Divorce also boasts a stellar cast that includes Leslie Caron, Glenn Close, Bebe Neuwirth, Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston and Matthew Modine.