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The War of the Roses
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10 from R votes
Release: 08 Dec 1989 /

The War of the Roses

Genre: Comedy
Director: Danny DeVito,
Stars: , , ,
Synopsis: A married couple try everything to get each other to leave the house in a vicious divorce battle.

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Critic Reviews


A classic feature of Danny DeVito's (far too few) works as a director is that they are utterly evil. Cruel. Wicked. Merciless to their characters and merciless to the viewer. Although this is often combined with slight exaggeration, it is exactly what I love about them.

After seeing The War of the Roses the second time after having grown a little older, I still feel that particular satisfaction. But this time, there are a few more things I think about, a few more questions I ask myself. For instance: who is the bad guy in the film? Who is `to blame'? And although it's clear that the Roses both have extremely unmoveable and stubborn characters, which partly leads to the catastrophe, I came to the conclusion that Barbara is the driving force of the whole divorce story. She announces her wish to divorce upon grounds that are not quite convincing. Maybe people who do not like Michael Douglas can sympathize with her but her reasons are not fair. She invariably follows her instinct without paying any respect to other people. Kathleen Turner portrays her most believably in this insufferable phase.

Oliver Rose, on the other hand, is one of those people who are proud of doing everything in a perfectly correct manner. He is therefore very sensitive and easily confronted if one doesn't acknowledge his correct behavior. He then becomes completely helpless and unable to react properly. That makes him an ideal `victim' to Barbara's striking egoism.

I'm mentioning this only because it is a new aspect I found during second viewing, and I am sure it was also DeVito's intention to develop characters like this, so for him, the turbulent divorce story is not just a parable on how stupid people are in general. He of course reserved the best role in the film for himself – he is the wise man who tells the parable and who emerges victorious in the end.

The War of the Roses with its merciless cruelness remains one of my favourite comedies of all time.

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