Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 36
  2. Negative: 5 out of 36
  1. A relaxed delight, a series of delicately tongue-in-cheek musings about the clash between American and French cultures.
  2. 75
    Acted with relish by a note-perfect cast -- a romantic comedy of true sophistication. There's a sting in every laugh.
  3. 75
    While there are too many characters in too much story for the movie to really involve us, it's amusing as a series of sketches about how the French think they are a funny race (or the Americans, take your choice).
  4. No masterpiece, but that shouldn't dissuade moviegoers from giving it a whirl as a flavorful alternative to the summer's more gimmicky fare.
  5. Captures the effervescence and playfulness of Johnson's novel, even as it attempts to shoehorn a tangle of characters and situations.
  6. In this episodic film with a soupcon of "Sex and the City" (just as the Merchant Ivory Slaves of New York presaged the HBO hit), cross-cultural misunderstanding, not character, is the point.
  7. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    The actors and acting are so attractive--as is, per usual in a Merchant Ivory production, the scenery--that the movie’s less deft handling of the scenario’s various themes, not to mention some stumbling in the final quarter, when the story’s tone grows a little darker, doesn’t stand out as much as it might have.
  8. 75
    This present-day Paris of Le Divorce is smartly shot and costumed, and the whole affair is breezy and uncharacteristically insouciant, given the reserved nature of the folks responsible for it.
  9. As in other Ivory-Jhabvala adaptations, ritzy consumerism is very much on display, but what makes this better than most is Johnson's amused admiration for nearly all her characters, regardless of nationality.
  10. 70
    One minor element in Le Divorce, the sale of a disputed and possibly valuable painting that once belonged to Watts' family, welcomes scene-stealing bits by Bebe Neuwirth and Stephen Fry as appraisers with clashing motives.
  11. Utterly charming and not without those subtle insights into character and culture that mark their (Merchant Ivory) best films.
  12. An almost too-sophisticated comedy, pitting the New World mentality and brash pugnaciousness of America against the staid arrogance of custom that defines the French bourgeoisie.
  13. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A tasty bonbon, initially appealing but not terribly satisfying.
  14. 63
    Characters are left half-developed or undeveloped so that as much plot as possible can be crammed into two hours. The result, while not wholly unsatisfying, will disappoint those used to the cinematic richness we have come to expect from this collaboration.
  15. Though not as witty or accomplished as you'd expect from its pedigree, "Le Divorce" provides welcome relief from the lame-brained trash Hollywood has foisted on the public this summer.
  16. 60
    For a movie that boasts a murder, a would-be suicide and the usual generous helping of screwing around à la français, Le Divorce is remarkably calm and contained even as it builds to its climax.
  17. Is this just silly filmmaking, or have Ivory and Jhabvala succumbed to the Francophobia that gave us "freedom fries" in the congressional cafeteria?
  18. A thin and unsatisfying concoction that somehow manages to make one of the richest and most durable sources of culture-clash comedy into an occasion for dullness.
  19. 50
    Scattered and silly. If it evokes any strong feelings from you, it will probably be hunger -- the food all looks so good.
  20. 50
    Team M-I knows its way around James and ignores the lazy stereotype of Americans as gauche rubes bumbling around Paris like barbarians at the ballet in favor of sly digs at French and American mores alike.
  21. Feels like a period film in clumsy modern-day dressup.
  22. Reviewed by: David Ng
    Entranced by the natives, Le Divorce reduces the knowing ditziness of Johnson's novel to vapid, exchange-student wonderment.
  23. 50
    Somehow lacks lightness and weight. This is a movie that tries to work a bloody suicide attempt and a murder into a comedy of manners, with almost everything registering in the same narrow spectrum of inconsequence.
  24. Whatever the reason, his riff on Le Divorce follows the original only in broad strokes, hewing to a similar plot with many of the same characters but without the wit, the barbs and the politics.
  25. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    This supposed comedy of manners about Americans in Paris feels artificial at every turn, its characters so devoid of backstory and nuance their behavior often makes little sense.
  26. The French may be guilty of some bad behavior, but that's no reason to punish them with the shapeless, deceptively crass Le Divorce, a Merchant-Ivory production in which all things Gallic are reduced to quirks of snobbery, misogyny and haute selfishness.
  27. 50
    This is an insignificant film with a passably entertaining premise that goes wildly to hell the instant it strays from its comic ideals with brief, unsatisfying detours into the realms of art and high-end lingerie.
  28. I'm disappointed to report that Hudson and Watts have no chemistry as sisters, perhaps because Watts never seems like the expatriate artiste she's supposed to be playing.
  29. It may be that Merchant Ivory need the armature of the past in order to create a sense of the present. Le Divorce is mustier than any of their movies set back in time.
  30. 50
    Kate Hudson gives the best performance in the movie, though she seems always on the verge of being funnier and dirtier than she's allowed to be. Elsewhere the cast is accumulated for their cachet more than for any role they're given to play. Some of the casting makes no sense.
  31. There are flashes of wit and flair here, including two stylish sequences detailing the French obsession with food and scarves, but they are but brief respites from the film’s near-pathological drear.
  32. At its best (which isn't much), Le Divorce blusters along with the tolerable tedium of had-to-be-there home movies; at its worst (which is about 90 percent), it illustrates why the French went and invented the word merde.
  33. 30
    The truth is that almost nobody, and certainly no nation, emerges well from this sour endeavor. [18 & 25 August 2003, p. 150]
  34. 30
    Should have been a smart bit of cinematic froth but instead sinks like an overworked souffle.
  35. 25
    The movie bobbles along on a weird, soft-edged sarcasm.
  36. A generally mirthless comedy of manners.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 25 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 12
  2. Negative: 6 out of 12
  1. joe
    Aug 30, 2009
    Horrifying little movie by someone who is probably the sort of person who still calls french fries "freedom fries." For all the eye candy on Horrifying little movie by someone who is probably the sort of person who still calls french fries "freedom fries." For all the eye candy on the screen, everyone manages to come off extremely ugly. Avoid. Full Review »
  2. RobC
    Nov 9, 2007
    So loaded with feminist propaganda that every development left me in no suspense as to its purpose and outcome. Reminiscent of old Soviet So loaded with feminist propaganda that every development left me in no suspense as to its purpose and outcome. Reminiscent of old Soviet movies. Excruciating. Full Review »
  3. NickS.
    Aug 4, 2003
    Usually when I watch a film based on a bestseller that I haven't read, I run out to buy the book. Seabiscuit is a good example. I Usually when I watch a film based on a bestseller that I haven't read, I run out to buy the book. Seabiscuit is a good example. I understand how tough it is to adapt a book but this film made it look impossible. The film couldn't decide what it was about. I went in thinking that it was a romantic comedy but there was hardly any romance and no comedy!! I could count how many times I laughed on one hand. Throw in an attempted suicide, some murders, and depressed women and call that a comedy?!?! I don't think so. Matthew Modine was the only funny character in the film but I'm pretty sure that he wasn't supposed to be. Kate Hudson plays the same character she always does and Naomi Watts was just plain ordinary. I did enjoy the portrayal of the American family, especially when they were in Paris. Overall, I wasn't impressed with this film at all and thought it wasted a lot of talent and a gorgeous location with a mediocre script that couldn't decide what it wanted to be. Merchant-Ivory should go back to period films because they have no idea how to make something else. But if you're fan of the book, it supposedly stays relatively true to it and other fans in the audience enjoyed the film. If you're not a fan of the book, go see Bad Boys II. Full Review »