***½/**** Image A- Sound B- Extras A
starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Marianne Sägebrecht
screenplay by Michael Leeson, based on the novel by Warren Adler
directed by Danny DeVito
by Walter Chaw Oliver and Barbara Rose (Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner) have it all: a beautiful house, two children, a dog, a cat, and a burning hatred for one another nursed through years of disintegrating familiarity. The first irony of The War of the Roses is that a film structured around a divorce is named after a historical conflict that ended in marriage--an indication that in addition to being brutally funny, the film is whip smart and dangerous. Framed by sleazy divorce lawyer Gavin D'Amato (Danny DeVito) as a cautionary tale to a prospective client (Dan Castellaneta), The War of the Roses charts the disintegration of the Roses' marriage from sylvan bliss to Stygian night. In no uncertain terms, the film details why dog people should not marry cat people; just how irritating eating a steak can be to your spouse; and the reason that angry sex is the only sex for some couples. A brilliant screenplay (Michael Leeson adapted Warren Adler's novel) and a trio of performances that honour the sharpness and difficulty of said script justifies watching this alternately just-bearable and agonizing comedy.