There are movies that tend to be forgotten over time and when you rediscover them they are just as good as the moment you left them.
‘The war of the roses’ is definitely one of those.
Made in 1989, this black comedy about a couple that goes from happy to miserable over the course of 20 years has so much charm you can’t help but like it.
Danny DeVito,who gained his stardom by a host of comedic roles, is directing and starring in this (to some degree) realistic tale about Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) and Barbara (Kathleen Turner) who marry and become the titular ‘Roses’ of this story.
Danny DeVito plays Gavin, a divorce lawyer who is sitting in his office telling the tale of the roses to his latest client and ultimately us as a viewer. DeVito is a good narrator and it’s not before long that you’re sucked into the proceedings. (accompanied by none other than Saul Bass’ opening credits)
Their initial first encounter reeks of romance, with the rained down white blouse from Barbara and the boyish charm from Oliver, the two quickly connect and get married.
Shortly after though, we slowly watch the marriage detoriate and lead to so many recognisable situations I found myself laughing out loud for multiple times.
The brilliance of the screenplay is that it never uses swearing or physical violence as a way to proceed the story. It’s the little annoyances that you can’t really place your finger on, her way of living of his money, his way of stealing the limelight at a company dinner, his fake laugh, her fake career.
It’s recognisable because it’s all part of having a relationship.
You learn to love eachother and respect eachother despite of some of the more shall we say ‘lesser developed’ sides of your partner.
Ofcourse, in the end ‘The war of the roses’ is a comedy and so matters do go from bad to worse in an instant.
With the huge chemistry between Douglas and Turner (who by that time had already made two hit movies together; ‘Romancing the Stone’ and its sequel ‘The Jewel of the Nile’ ) and a relatively simple but effective story, the 2 hours just wizz on by as you laugh, laugh and laugh harder at the performances.
The only complaint I have is that DeVito isn’t used enough, that might be due to the fact he was directing it as well, but the movie could’ve used a bit more of his trademark humor and panache.
All in all, ‘The war of the roses’ is a movie you shouldn’t miss out on.
Its a decidedly 80’s comedy with great performances, a lot of clever comedy and able direction.