3317. The War Of The Roses (1989)

7.3 Clever, but a little too dark
  • Acting 7.5
  • Directing 7.3
  • Story 7.2
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito

Director: Danny DeVito

Running Time: 116 mins

The War Of The Roses is an American film about a married couple whose relationship rapidly deteriorates, causing them to fall into a bitter divorce battle that seems to have no limits.

There’s a fine line to tread when it comes to making a properly dark comedy, and The War Of The Roses, for all its strengths and audacity in trying something a little darker, does cross that line at times. As fun as a watch as it is from time to time, the film is also rather intense, and a little more dispiriting than it perhaps aims to be.

I realise that criticising a dark comedy for not being ‘fun’ enough sounds paradoxical, but I feel that there was definitely more room for The War Of The Roses to be funnier than it is intensely dark. The opening stages are the best part of the film, although things deteriorate almost too rapidly, making the rupturing of the Roses’ marriage seem a little forced.

That said, there are still a number of fun and even laugh-out-loud moments through the film, particularly in the periods when Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner aren’t actually on screen together. When they are together, however, they’re almost too convincing as a bitter couple in the process of a messy divorce, which proves really rather unpleasant to watch at times.

The performances are great, and director Danny DeVito certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to portraying the potentially devastating reality of a crumbling marriage, it’s just that the dark and dispiriting nature of their quarrels, coupled with an almost ludicrous turn of events in the final act, clashes badly with what starts off as a sharp but still enjoyable dark comedy.

It’s certainly sharper than the preposterous likes of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and the film does at least have a positive message to tell, which it ends on in a really cleverly-plotted way. That means that, although it’s not particularly fun, The War Of The Roses more or less does what it says on the tin, but it was just a little much for me. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 7.3 overall.


About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com