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The War of the Roses

By Mark Englehart

Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito reunited for a third time to fabulous effect in this dark, disturbing comedy of martial trauma and revenge, which couldn't be more different from their sunnier outings in Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile. Douglas and Turner, in career-best performances, are the materialistic, consumer-driven Roses of the title (Oliver and Barbara) whose seemingly perfect marriage has soured beyond repair; their only point of contact, aside from their two college-bound kids, is their meticulously maintained dream house, which Douglas bought and Turner decorated to perfection. When Turner gets a taste of financial independence, she asks Douglas for divorce--all she wants is the house and everything in it (aside from his clothes and shaving kit). He laughs at her and she punches him in the face. Things only get worse from there, as nasty divorce proceedings (with DeVito as Douglas's lawyer) give way to insults, threats, ruined dinner parties, and pet abuse. And through it all, the Roses begin destroying their beloved home and its contents, just to spite each other. DeVito, who also directed, takes Michael Leeson's blacker-than-black screenplay and gives it a hyperstylized spin, complete with skewed camera angles and wonderfully expressionistic cinematography (by Stephen Burum) as Douglas and Turner barricade themselves in their house, both refusing to give an inch. Shocking for a mainstream studio picture, with its unsympathetic protagonists, escalating bitterness, and disturbing finale, Roses is a poisonously funny valentine to both marriage and '80s materialism, tempered only by its framing device as a cautionary tale. Definitely not a date movie.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Danny DeVito

Stars: Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner

Released: December 8, 1989

Availability: DVD VHS


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