clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Movie Review: "Down With Love"

I love period pieces. Not just to see what current filmmakers do with old-style film styles, or eras, but to see if they make any mistakes, anachronisms, etc.

"Down With Love" doesn't have any of the latter, and it's a wonderful, sly, winking homage to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson films of the 50's and 60's.

I can't say enough about Renee Zellweger, who has become the leading actress of our time. Now, that's not hype, I don't think: think about the roles she's played, from Tom Cruise's girlfriend in "Jerry Maguire", to "Nurse Betty", to an overweight Englishwoman in "Bridget Jones' Diary", to her Oscar-winning performance in "Chicago", and now a perfect rendition of an almost-liberated Sixties working woman/writer, at the same time doing a real nice sly turn as the Doris Day character.

The script is almost secondary to the costumes, sets and setting of this film, all of which are done perfectly, almost outlandishly so. The primary colors used are nearly blinding; the hats are outrageous, and there's a series of scenes in which Zellweger and her lesser-known co-star, Sarah Paulson (dolled up as a brunette vixen), dress up in a series of ever-more-ridiculous matching outfits. This is Paulson's first major feature film role and I'd expect her to show up in many more films soon. She's a major talent.

Ewan McGregor of "The Phantom Menace" fame is perfect as the sort-of-evil Catcher Block (another ludicrous name), who alternately woos and wants to expose Zellweger's "Barbara Novak", who isn't all she appears to be either. It's a "caper", in some ways, more than a movie, with so many of the sixties gimmicks in it, including perfect representations of the old-style "street scene in the window" while characters are riding in cars, to the credit styles, both opening and closing, and an extremely funny sexually-charged use of the old split-screen that was used so often back then when characters were on the phone. Much of the dialogue, in fact, is sexually charged, in a way that both winks at and exceeds what the Day/Hudson films did. And Tony Randall, now 83 years old, has a perfect role as the head of the publishing firm that's the center of all the action. Nice to see that he still has it.

This film is great fun, a great homage, and a nice story too. Highly recommended.

AYRating: *** 1/2