When I arrived at the theater to see the new foreign film, “The
Holy Land,” I found out that the times had been changed, and I’d
missed the first half. The only other available movie for me to see
was “Intolerable Cruelty,” starring George Clooney and Catherine
The credit list at the beginning of the movie is shown with
animation of chubby cupids and white people, who look like they’re
from the 1800s. Interesting idea, since real “intolerable cruelty”
during that time would have been how white people acted towards
Miles (Clooney) is a self-obsessed, smooth-talking divorce
lawyer. Marilyn (Zeta-Jones) needs a divorce from her cheating
husband. Miles represents her wealthy husband, and ensures that
Marilyn receives no money from the divorce. This is a problem for
Marilyn, whose goal in life is to marry a rich man, divorce him and
take his money, so she can become “independent.” Apparently, the
irony that she’ll still be dependent on her ex-husband’s money is
lost on her. It doesn’t matter, however, since she’s just a money
hungry “man-hater” as Miles describes her.
All the men in the movie are rich (and white; Cedric the
Entertainer plays the only black character, and he is a
law-breaking video-taper who catches cheating spouses in the act),
and have careers. The women in the movie are trophy wives who
survive on what they get from pre-nuptials and divorce
The love story between Miles and Marilyn is completely
implausible and unlikable. The two characters are so conniving and
ruthless that at one point they both decide to kill each other.
Miles at least is more likable that Marilyn, because Clooney’s
trademark cockiness adds to the humor of the movie. But Zeta-Jones
as Marilyn is cold, and the character is unredeemable. She has no
desires beyond money, and everything she does is motivated by it.
Maybe the real love story in the movie is capitalism.
Besides the disgusting way women and men are represented in the
movie, one other strange thing is noticeable during the several
weddings in the film. At each, the man and woman getting married
are pronounced “man and wife.” Most modern ceremonies now pronounce
the couple as “husband and wife.” It is a small point, to be sure,
but reinforces the ideals of the movie, which are that women just
want to go to spas, while their husbands hold careers and make
money for their wives and girlfriends on the side. The women and
men in the movie are obviously unequal, but the women are portrayed
as too stupid to notice.
“Intolerable Cruelty” is a ridiculous film about rich people and
their struggle to screw each other over to get more money. It may
be funny, but if you aren’t aware of the underlying messages in the
film, the joke is on you.