Few things are sadder, sillier, or scarier than the break-up of a long-married pair, and in THE WAR OF THE ROSES, director Danny DeVito captures this fiasco in its full, blackly comic ingloriousness. After 17 years of wedlock, Barbara Rose (Kathleen Turner) can't stand her husband, Oliver
(Michael Douglas). He still loves her--but he loves their big, beautiful, antique-filled house more, and therein lies the cautionary tale, told by Gavin D'Amato (director DeVito), a divorce lawyer who recounts the progressively crazier story to a prospective client. Stuck (for legal reasons) in
the house together as they begin divorce proceedings, the Roses escalate tensions until the hostilities erupt into full-scale, no-prisoners war.
DeVito films this tale with a fiendish gusto, yet with psychological realism and meticulous attention to an inexorable logic in the plotting, even as the Roses' war moves from the outlandish to the surreal. At once horrific and hilarious, THE WAR OF THE ROSES is made with a high level of cinematic
craft: Turner and Douglas (ROMANCING THE STONE, JEWEL OF THE NILE) again prove to be the quintessential antiromantic screen couple for the antiromantic 1980s, and DeVito exerts a control behind the camera that is otherwise almost nonexistent in contemporary American film comedy. leave a comment