Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito are reunited for a third time to fabulous effect in The War of the Roses
. This is a dark, disturbing comedy of marital trauma and revenge, which couldn't be more different from their sunnier outings in Romancing the Stone
and The Jewel of the Nile
. Douglas and Turner, in career-best performances, are the materialistic, consumer-driven Roses of the title (Oliver and Barbara) whose seemingly perfect marriage has soured beyond repair; their only point of contact is their meticulously maintained dream house, which Douglas bought and Turner decorated to perfection. When Turner gets a taste of financial independence, she asks Douglas for a divorce--all she wants is the house and everything in it (aside from his clothes and shaving kit). He laughs at her and she punches him in the face. Things only get worse from there, as nasty divorce proceedings (with DeVito as Douglas's lawyer) give way to insults, threats, ruined dinner parties and pet abuse. And through it all, the Roses begin destroying their beloved home and its contents, just to spite each other. DeVito, who also directed, takes Michael Leeson's blacker-than-black screenplay and gives it a hyper-stylised spin, complete with skewed camera angles and wonderfully expressionistic cinematography (by Stephen Burum) as Douglas and Turner barricade themselves in their house, both refusing to give an inch. Shocking for a mainstream studio picture, with its unsympathetic protagonists, escalating bitterness and disturbing finale, Roses
is a poisonously funny valentine to both marriage and 1980s materialism, tempered only by its framing device as a cautionary tale. --Mark Englehart, Amazon.com
Barbara (Kathleen Turner) and Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) seem to have the perfect marriage, until one day Barbara imagines what life would be like without Oliver and decides she would prefer it. A bitter custody battle for their dream house ensues, with their lawyer (Danny DeVito) caught in the middle.