The War of the Roses (1989)

R   |    |  Comedy, Romance


The War of the Roses (1989) Poster

A married couple try everything to get each other to leave the house in a vicious divorce battle.


6.8/10
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  • The War of the Roses (1989)
  • Michael Douglas in The War of the Roses (1989)
  • Kathleen Turner in The War of the Roses (1989)
  • Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito in The War of the Roses (1989)
  • Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in The War of the Roses (1989)
  • Michael Douglas in The War of the Roses (1989)

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24 October 2005 | MovieAddict2016
10
| Works on so many levels
DeVito is a hit-and-miss director. He's turned out some very good films and some very bad ones. Sometimes his satire just falls short ("Death to Smoochy," for example); however, "War of the Roses" is his strongest directorial effort to date.

It's got everything - a clever script, great interaction between its two stars, exciting thrills, funny gags (without ever resorting to unnecessary crudity), and to top it all off, the direction is very effective - DeVito is heavily influenced by Hitchcock and that is very clear in the final sequence, which is reminiscent of "Vertigo" and "Rear Window." Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner play the Rose couple - two once-happily-married people who are now, after many years together, bitter and at the end of their frustration. Deciding upon a divorce, they begin to split apart; however, negotiations regarding belongings begin to go awry as Oliver Rose (Douglas) demands more from his wife, claiming it's his money that purchased their enormous house and all objects inside.

DeVito turns in a performance as the narrator, and Oliver's lawyer, who tells us at the start we are about to watch a sad tale about divorce. By the time the film has ended we've seen events spiral totally out of control - beginning with absolute believability and ending in absolute absurdity.

That's the crucial part of all this. Black comedy relies on whether the dramatic arc of the content - the leap from reality to lunacy - can be believable. Many times in DeVito's film, it isn't. "Smoochy," for example, was clever satire at first, and fairly reminiscent of real-life people and events; then it turned into an over-the-top revenge rampage.

"War of the Roses" is more careful, and the arc is subtler. It's believable because the characters are given such room to grow and their conflict blossoms throughout the picture.

I'd classify "War of the Roses" as one of the funniest, cleverest and most underrated black comedies of the 1980s - it's one of my personal favorite movies and never fails to crack me up. A cult film? Maybe; but I think many more people would enjoy it if they gave it a chance.

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Comedy | Romance

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