Everything sounds sexier in French.
When Isabel Walker (Hudson) comes to stay with her sister, Roxeanne (Watts) in Paris, she's setting herself up for something far more perplexing than culture shock: womanhood. However in Le Divorce, this is the kind of womanhood that's better suited to Paris than the United States. Isabel will not be furthering her career so much as shopping for lingerie appropriate to a mistress.
Isabel's first discovery is the break-up of her sister's marriage. She arrives just in time to see Roxeanne's enigmatic French husband, Charles-Henri, disappear into a taxi. No longer in love with his wife, he's leaving her for another woman even though she's carrying his baby.
Despite this gloomy setup, which leads to bizarre (i.e. French) divorce proceedings and disconcerting encounters with Charles-Henri's eccentric, bourgeois relatives, Isabel is determined to have fun. After getting a job with an American writer (Close), she meets and falls for a young political type. Evidently this is not enough as when Edgar (Lhermitte), a diplomat, brazenly asks her to be his mistress, Isabel accepts the offer unconditionally.
The fact that Edgar is married, and is Charles-Henri's uncle to boot, doesn't concern her in the slightest. She's enthralled by the upmarket clothes Edgar expects her to adopt (including the right underwear) and the gifts he showers upon her, including a red handbag - supposedly favoured by Grace Kelly in her heyday. In the film's light-hearted scheme of things, that bag becomes something of a running joke and status symbol: it seems Isabel isn't the first person to receive a red bag from Edgar.
Perhaps the biggest star of all is Paris, a city where anything and everything in affairs of the heart is embraced, permitted and even enshrined as a necessary part of life. Le Divorce is a relaxed, delightful series of tongue-in-cheek musings about the clash between American and French cultures. It's also marvellously busy with plot complications and is a great way of spending a couple of hours.
Screenings of this film:
|2003/2004 Spring Term – (35mm)|