Since the career peaks of Fargo and The Big Lebowski, the Coen brothers’ previously astonishing career momentum has noticeably faltered. O Brother, Where Art Thou? had some good things going for it, but is probably best remembered for its soundtrack. And as for The Man Who Wasn’t There…well, nice lighting is probably the best you can say about a film utterly stifled by stylistic affectation.
Intolerable Cruelty, meanwhile, is their most mainstream movie to date?a misfiring comedy starring George Clooney as a rich but jaded divorce attorney who falls for Catherine Zeta-Jones’ voracious gold-digger. Clooney is at first sleek, shark-like and very funny, and when he’s on screen Intolerable Cruelty is passably entertaining. But the material is so desperately thin he’s soon floundering, and so is the film, which slowly deflates around him. Undistinguished.