In this modern-day comedy of manners, American sisters Isabel and Roxy come face to face with the complicated social mores of French society. Pregnant and jilted by her scoundrel husband, Roxy is headed for divorce, while Isabel leaps into l'amour with a married French diplomat who happens to be the uncle of Roxy's soon-to-be-ex. Culture clash and scandal ensue as the sisters learn what it really takes to be an American in Paris.
Isabel Walker (Kate Hudson) arrives in Paris just as her half-sister (Naomi Watts) undergoes the marital catastrophe the gives this sluggish, misshapen comedy of manners its title. Adapted from Diane Johnson's brisk, knowing novel, the film somehow manages to squander both a first-rate ensemble cast and a rich, durable source of comedy: the social and romantic misadventures of Americans in France. Isabel's character and motives remain irritatingly blank, even as she undergoes a wondrous transformation, acquiring a taste for fine lingerie, elegant coiffure and suave, middle-aged politicians. But the movie lets the accessories do too much of the work, and only Thierry Lhermitte (as Isabel's politician lover) and Glenn Close (as an expatriate writer) show any real comic esprit; it's a comedy made by filmmakers with little sense of timing and almost no sense of humor, with plenty of good taste and no real flavor. — A.O. Scott
2003-08-08 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Le Divorce