De-Lovely depicts the life of legendary songsman Cole Porter. Director Irwin Winkler manages to incorporate into the film nearly every significant piece of music that Porter composed. Unfortunately, Winkler sacrifices the semblance of a coherent narrative in doing so. De-Lovely is a sequence of flat and unrelated episodes, strung together by frequent, poorly executed musical numbers, nearly all of which occur outside of the film's diegesis.
Kevin Kline's dynamic and energetic performance brings a little bit of life to an otherwise narrow representation of Cole Porter. Ashley Judd's portrayal of Linda Porter merits no such praise. The stilted but witty dialogue is written in the mode of a 1940s MGM musical. Watching Judd struggle with lines that apparently she does not understand is genuinely uncomfortable.
Winkler ends up with an awkward and confused cast, absurdly overdone mise-en-scŠne, less than ambitious cinematography and no detectable signs of a story.
Winkler's effort to raise the classic MGM musical genre from the dead is a noble one, but ultimately unfruitful and disappointing. -- Maggie Hennefeld