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Irwin Winkler
Starring: Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd ...
Length: 125 minutes
Rated: Pg-13
Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Go see this film, not to get an accurate story of the life of musician Cole Porter, but to get a feel for the preciousness and fleeting nature of life. And, to ask the question, what is love, what forms does it take? While the music in the film is fabulous and evocative, the filming is high style, and the format, a montage-style impression of the life Porter led, keeps you interested, the real message of the film seems to be based on the question, how would your life look to you if you could watch it in flashback with your guardian angel at your side? Would you have loved well? Would you have been the best version of yourself that you could be?

Given all that Cole Porter accomplished in his life, this film only scratches the surface. Critics were very critical of it. You do get a sense of the man he was, the deals he made, and the talent that bounded out of him, but the film is incomplete. However, none of that needs to matter, really. Watch this film for the deeper messages that it brings. Porter had fun, he ‘misbehaved’ [song entitled “Let’s Misbehave” is in the film] and caused suffering, he suffered, he endured pain, and he also seemed to be on a quest to explore, question, discover, and distinguish love – and much of his music evidences this desire he had to know love.

As the deceased Cole Porter (played marvelously by Kevin Kline) sits and watches his life on the screen, there are parts he really doesn’t want to see, doesn’t want to experience again. But his angel doesn’t let him escape, and Porter views the good, the bad, and the ugly. He also learns that his wife truly loved him, and he loved her. A marriage of convenience on some levels, lacking passion, there was nonetheless deep positive regard and caring on both sides, and in truth, his marriage to Linda Lee (played elegantly by Ashley Judd) provided security, stability, and motivation to continue to step into places that challenged and frightened him, and gave her the chance to feel secure as his muse and committed companion in life.

The movie quietly threads its way into your heart, musically and emotionally; at one point I discovered that I had moved from feeling it was a sappy film to a profoundly moving one, and I was hooked. May the same happen to you.

Questions for Reflection

  1. It would seem that Cole Porter lived his life mostly as he wanted to, yet the retrospective view puts that into question. If you could imagine your life up until now on a screen for you to view, would you be able to say that you are making the best choices you can with the circumstances you are in?
  2. What does love mean to you? How is love present in your life? In what forms does it show up?
  3. Porter had friends to the very end. Will you? What is the role of friendship in your life? What is your intention re: being a friend and having friends?

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