What’s it about: This biopic follows the life of Cole Porter from the day that he first met his wife Linda Lee Thomas in 1919 until her death in 1954. Told in flashbacks as Porter critiques a musical about his life seated with the director, the film focuses on the relationship between Cole and Linda and the influence that she had on his career and music.
Who’s in it: Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd
When it came out: 2004
How come you haven’t heard of (or just seen) it: While it did reasonably well on the film festival circuit and received a couple of acting Golden Globe nominations, it only received limited release and managed to slip under the radar.
Why you need to watch it–immediately!
- The opening sequence as the elderly Porter watches rehearsals for the musical of his life is a great hook for the film. As “Anything Goes” begins to play, Porter’s past materializes around him. He exclaims in delight as he sees old friends and remarks to the director about the details that he didn’t get quite right. It’s all very meta and shows an innate understanding for what it is that makes musicals, particularly Cole’s musicals so wonderful as the director tells Linda, “Remember it’s your story too. It’s a love story,” and she responds, “That’s why I’m frightened,” to which he replies, “Don’t be. Have you ever seen a musical without a happy ending?” The perfect beginning
- Ashley Judd. She is almost three decades too young for the part and yet manages to steal every scene that she’s in
- Kevin Kline. Brilliant as always, he shines in the musical numbers and brings a light whimsy to the screen
- Ashley Judd and Kevin Kline have great chemistry, playing off each other beautifully and having a ball
- “Cole, it’s your life; your music will be our guide,” and that’s exactly how director Irwin Winkler plays it. It’s all about the music and how it shaped the Porter’s life. The musical numbers are throwbacks to the golden age of musicals and overflowing with the energy that made the old 40s and 50s musicals so entertaining
- The discussion that Porter has with his friend Gerald Murphy about their wives and how they are always there to support their husbands. It’s a poignant moment made even more so by Porter’s question of “Who’s there to catch them?”
- Did I mention that the musical numbers are great?