It's de-valued! It's de-pressing! It's de-sensitized! (OK, maybe it's not desensitized, but it fit the meter.) In his last hours, Cole Porter (Kevin Kline) is visited by an otherworldly emissary (Jonathan Pryce), who treats the dying composer to a replay of his life in the form of a stage musical. As framing techniques go, it's wildly inappropriate, carrying more than a whiff of All That Jazz; being in the hands of folks who think that what worked for Fosse should work for Porter means that we're in for some seriously tacky melodrama. And that's what we get, mostly. The main thrust of the story is Porter's alleged bisexuality, though gay audiences will likely be put off by the cowardly way his homo hookups are depicted as mere hedonistic impediments to his "real" relationship with his long-suffering wife (Ashley Judd). The further the movie gets from its hokey superstructure, the closer it comes to narrative credibility; unfortunately, its last 30 minutes are so surfeited with lugubrious tragedy that you'll find yourself rooting for both of the ailing leads to just die and get it over with already. As for Kline's high-profile performance, let's just say that, as an aged Cole Porter, he makes a great Carl Reiner.
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