Starring: Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Ralph Bellamy
Director: Leo McCarey
Running Time: 91 mins
The Awful Truth is an American film about a soon-to-be-divorced husband and wife who decide to get back at each other by ruining one another’s independent romantic endeavours.
I love so many screwball comedies; Bringing Up Baby, It Happened One Night, The Philadelphia Story etc., but I just couldn’t get on board with The Awful Truth. Despite its stellar cast, I was simply bored from start to finish by its stationary and uninteresting story, not to mention the lack of laughs in what should be an absolutely riotous watch.
There is one key issue which I am certain is the reason that I just didn’t enjoy this film, and that’s the directing and settings. Similar to Holiday, the entirety of this film is either set in a large mansion or at a fancy romantic destination on the town, but what that does is give the film so little life beyond its lead actors.
I was able to enjoy Holiday more because of its performances, but in The Awful Truth, director Leo McCarey doesn’t do a good enough job at giving the film a degree of pace or liveliness in its atmosphere, and that becomes the overriding impression you get from the film as it goes on, which wasn’t good to see.
Let’s talk about the performances. Cary Grant is a classic actor who we all love to bits, and Irene Dunne is less well-known nowadays, but is still a very able actress, particularly alongside Grant. But I can’t understand for the life of me why the two just weren’t that magnetic in The Awful Truth. Throughout, they have numerous bickering conversations whilst trying to undermine each other, but they never come across as hilariously funny as the best screwball comedies, which I was hugely disappointed by.
Finally, I think the comedy is another major issue here. Yes, it may be dated 79 years later, but there are similar films from the period that I still enjoy massively. It’s clear to me, therefore, that the way the comedy is written is similar to the style of directing, very low-key, and not as exciting as necessary. Of course, I don’t need slapstick from start to finish, but I don’t remember laughing at all in this film.
Overall, I was very disappointed by The Awful Truth. I realise it’s a well-liked and acclaimed film, but for me, I was impressed by neither the performances nor the comedy, and the directing made it a very dull and stationary film that failed to keep me fully engaged throughout, and that’s why it gets a 6.1 from me.