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The Coen Brothers have built up a huge fan base over the years; their repertoire consists of such classics as Fargo, The Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou and it is these films that have propelled the brothers into the big league. Along the way they have built up a strong reputation for not bowing down to mainstream movie genres. Last year saw the release of their latest movie, Intolerable Cruelty, which starred George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones. The movie was originally scripted by the brothers but they had no intention of directing it. Seven years later they decided to take on the project and it proved to be a big success, but unfortunately at the same time they disappointed fans who perceived it to be too mainstream. This is a review of the region two disc.

Intolerable Cruelty
Miles Massey (George Clooney) is a divorce attorney who is considered to be one of the best in the business. Miles recognises this, but is bored of his mundane life which consists of helping people to con money out of their partners. His reputation is built around a no-holds barred attitude and his infamous pre-nuptial agreement (the Massey Pre-Nup). The agreement is renowned for offering a fair outcome for all parties, and has never been broken.

Massey’s life is about to become more interesting when he takes on the case of Rex Rexroth, a millionaire real-estate developer who has been caught cheating on his wife, Marilyn (Catherine Zeta Jones). Mrs Rexroth believes she has a watertight case, but she doesn’t take into account Massey’s argumentative skills. Her case falls apart and she ends up with nothing, but that is not her last encounter with her husband’s defence attorney. Determined to get her own back, Marilyn decides to marry again and takes the precaution of using the ultra-safe Massey Pre-Nup. Her husband, Texas Oil Tycoon Howard (Billy Bob Thornton) is not keen on the idea as he trusts his future wife, but nevertheless Marilyn insists on the agreement to make a point. Has Marilyn got other motives, or is she really prepared to potentially come out a marriage with no money?

Intolerable Cruelty bears all the hallmarks of a Coen brothers movie, for example there is same quirkiness and character development, but for some inexplicable reason it doesn’t quite feel true to their previous movies. I have to admit to not being a huge fan of the brothers’ previous works as most of them were too wacky for me, but I found this film to be far more entertaining. Probably the main reasons for this are the performances by Clooney and Zeta Jones, and their onscreen chemistry is apparent for all to see. Both seem to be at the peak of their careers at the moment and this certainly bodes well for the upcoming Oceans 11 sequel. It cannot be denied that the Coen Brothers know how to create intricate characters that are interesting to watch, and both Clooney and Zeta Jones do justice to their characters.

Intolerable Cruelty
Some fans of the Coen Brothers will probably be disappointed by this movie, but there are going to be many more who will lap it up, me being one of them! The past few years have seen a distinct lack of ‘quality’ romantic comedies, and while Intolerable Cruelty may be a little too dark to be classed it that bracket, it is still a movie that couples will enjoy. Intolerable Cruelty is the perfect movie for a relaxing Saturday night.

Universal have presented Intolerable Cruelty in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. In short this transfer is nothing short of outstanding. To some extent this what you would come to expect from a new Hollywood movie, but even so Universal have pulled out all the stops and produced a transfer which is near reference quality. The image is in pristine condition and detail is perfect. Clooney and Zeta Jones are both considered among the hottest property in Hollywood and their every contour is perfectly brought to screen with this transfer.

The colour palette is also vibrant and true, and blacks are solid while other brighter colours are also produced accurately. A good example of this is during the scenes involving George Clooney in his office. There is very little sign of grain throughout this presentation and edge enhancements are for the most part non-existent. I didn’t spot any compression artifacts, but I am sure if you looked hard enough for faults you might find some. Overall, I consider this to be a wonderful transfer which will take some effort to beat.  

Keeping up the high standards, Universal have also produced two quality soundtracks as well. Not only are we treated to an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but there is also an English DTS track. Intolerable Cruelty is mostly dialogue-driven so whether the two soundtracks are overkill is up for debate, but nevertheless it is a welcome choice. The rears are used sparingly, but when they do come into action they are used proficiently. The dialogue is audible throughout and the musical score is also brought to life with ease. There is normally very little to choose between Dolby Digital tracks and DTS, and this is certainly the case here. I struggled to notice any difference between them.

Intolerable Cruelty
Universal can normally be relied upon to supply a good number of extras, but this disc is severely lacking in this area. There are only three extras in total, and they are not of a particularly high standard. The first extra on this disc is called A Look Inside Intolerable Cruelty. This is a making of documentary which features most of the cast and crew involved with the movie. The Coen brothers have a lot of input into this documentary and give a detailed explanation of how the story came about. You can always expect a lot of backslapping in these sort of documentaries, but this one goes a little too far. The first five minutes are mostly taken up with various people complimenting Clooney and Zeta Jones for their performances. This gets a little dull and should have been toned down a bit. The rest of the documentary is taken up with an explanation of each of the characters. It is advisable that you watch this extra after the movie because it gives a lot of the story away. This extra lasts for twelve minutes.

Next up is an item simply named The Wardrobe which starts off showing various clips of the garments worn in the movie. This featurette concentrates on the costume design, and runs for just over five minutes. After watching this extra you will appreciate how important costumes are in movies, and George Clooney talks about the suits he wears and says how they help him to acclimatise himself to the role he is playing. There are also some brief chats with the people involved with the costume design and we also get to see some of the design sketches. In my opinion, this extra is more for women, and I found it a little tedious. The final extra on this disc is the selection of Outtakes, of which there are four in total. The fourth outtake has no audio, and for the most part they are not that funny to watch. A perfect example of this is the first outtake which is called ‘Everyone Eats Berries’ and consists of one of the characters repeating the words Everyone Eats Berries for about two minutes. Very annoying! The outtakes are in widescreen, and are of a reasonable quality.

Intolerable Cruelty
Intolerable Cruelty turned out to be a surprise package for me; I mentioned earlier that I am not a huge fan of the Coen Brothers’ previous movies so I wasn’t expecting much. However, the fact that I did enjoy this film probably goes to prove that the Coen Brothers have tried to target a different audience with this movie at the risk of losing their current fans. If you are looking for a funny, yet out of the ordinary romantic comedy then I can thoroughly recommend Intolerable Cruelty. As for the disc, Universal have done a resounding job in bringing this movie to the home cinema. The transfer is exceptional, and the fact that we have a DTS track to vouch for is a testament to the effort Universal have made with this release. Unfortunately the extra list makes for poor reading, but I suppose you can’t win them all.