24 January 2008 | xredgarnetx
Quite a 'War'
From the wickedly clever title to the smashing finale, WAR OF THE ROSES is probably the best dark comedy ever committed to film, Tim Burton and other works by Danny DeVito notwithstanding. A middle-aged couple with marital woes (Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner) fight over possession of their mansion-like home, and I do mean fight. DeVito takes his time building up to the actual fight, and the first half gives us the troubled couple inching along toward self-destruction. The second half -- well, if there's an adult HOME ALONE, this is definitely it. Priceless family heirlooms get smashed, the attic is booby-trapped and a loosened chandelier to rival that from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA becomes the focus of the Roses' final confrontation. It is mentioned early on that Mrs. Rose is a former gymnast, which comes in handy in later scenes where she might have otherwise been a goner. Throughout the movie, Mr. Rose claims to still love his wife, but he sure has some odd ways of showing it, including peeing on a fish dinner she whips up for some very pricey clients. Douglas as always is a wonder. He slips into the skin of this haughty, misguided individual and wears it well. He has given a handful of great performances, in WONDER BOYS, THE American PRESIDENT, FALLING DOWN and THE GAME, but this may be his best. Like Brad Pitt's bumbling Mr. Smith in MR. AND MRS. SMITH, Mr. Rose never quite gets it. It is a highly nuanced performance. Turner looks great and her Mrs. Rose never wavers from her goal, which is to divorce the increasingly unbearable Mr. Smith. You will either love or hate these always believable characters. DeVito as Mr. Smith's lawyer softens the cruel ending by adding a corny physical "gag" as well as a closing moment involving a phone conversation between lawyer and wife. No harm done. No one who has ever seen the chandelier scene is likely to forget it. Douglas and Turner, who with DeVito had done two previous films together, are at the top of their form here.