Directed by Ethan and Joel Cohen. USA. 2003.

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Intolerable Cruelty presented the Coen brothers with a golden opportunity to make a witty battle of the sexes, an opportunity they let pass. After global success with comedies such as Fargo and Raising Arizona, it was disappointing to find the brothers responsible for this lightweight attempt at dark humour. 

Intolerable Cruelty, sees George Clooney take on the role of Miles Massey, a divorce attorney who is tired of winning. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Marilyn Rexroth, a gold-digger addicted to marriage. These wafer-light characters then take part in a feeble bout of charm and seduction. 

With two Hollywood heavyweights playing the leads and with their own successful contributions to the genre, the brothers had a recipe for success, until they opted to starve the audience of a credible romantic comedy. 

It is near impossible to pin-point one exact reason for the film being such a failure, although the script itself must be a top contender. The blunt and undistinguished dialogue lacks the perverse humour usually credited to Ethan and Joel. Also in contention are several bizarre, rather than comical scenes; a Scottish wedding chapel in Vegas, an asthmatic hitman and a fluffy-dog-stroking character witness. Although the brothers have a well known tendency to create unique characters and events, these elements deprive the film of intelligence and wit. 

As the winners of various industry awards, including the prestigious Academy Award for their efforts in supporting roles, Iím sure both Clooney and Jones will cringe when admitting involvement in the ironically named Intolerable Cruelty.

Jack Gibson
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