Larry’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Coens journey through making a film of every single genre imaginable brought them to romantic comedy in 2003's Intolerable Cruelty.
Often misunderstood as lesser Coen but its understandably dry since they are working in a lesser genre, after all. It works as the ANTI-romantic comedy - stripping away all the over sentimentalism and cliches of the formula to show screwball caricatures each trying to protect their own secret stash. The film is not about romance at all, but rather the love of money and personal achievement. Marriage is only an accessory to that.
Its easy to pidgeonhole Intolerable Cruelty as a farce exposing the sanctity of marriage but the Coens try to force other issues into the film as well. Classism is the other big one but it doesnt get near as much attention as the deconstruction of marriage, save for a passing glance or two of luggage boys struggling to carry 5 suitcases at once while walking in the fart trail of nose turned up, hip swaying Catherine Zeta Jones. But then again its characters are walking, talking, scheming examples of the rich white upper class so maybe thats all that was needed for that message.
I think what makes the film unfavorable in the eyes of many is the missed opportunity for the film to be a lot funnier than it actually is. I was laughing more at peoples facial expressions (there are about 150+ hilarious facial expressions throughout) than their situations and the viewing experience is kind of apathetic with a few laughs, chuckles and winks along the way. It also never really gets into its rythm until the film is half over.
While its hardly an absorbing world or a detailed character piece like the Coens are known for, its still a film that you wanted to see a lot more from because the general idea was attractive enough.
Intolerable Cruelty isnt as haphazardly structured as Hail, Caesar! and it may not be as funny as Burn After Reading or yes, even The Ladykillers but I think it ranks above those for its witty and ironic takedown of arguably the worst genre ever.