De-Lovely is a lush, more or less accurate (at least moreso than the 1946 account of his life Day and Night, which starred Cary Grant) portrayal of the giddy life of Cole Porter. It starts when he meets his wife, Linda Lee, in Paris, and follows through to Porter's death. I'm not entirely sure I like the way the story is told. We see the events unfold as though Porter is watching a dress rehearsal of a new show. Flashbacks come as the actual film, and as production numbers for the show. We see him as an old man on his deathbed (about the best age makeup I've ever seen), and as he was during his life. It's at once disconcerting...and a very clever gimmick.
And yes, Cole Porter was gay, or at least bisexual. He also loved his wife very much and very deeply, although their marriage was more one of minds and spirits than of bodies. This movie explores both sides of a very complicated relationship with what can only be called style and grace. The songs take on a rather different meaning, too, when seen "in context."
There have been very mixed reactions to the use of pop singers to perform Cole Porter's songs. People like Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette, Natalie Cole, Sheryl Crow, Robbie Williams, Diana Krall and Lamar. I thought it was brilliant, and they made these singers up so well they blended into the 1920-1940 timeframe. And it's kind of fun to see familiar artists doing familiar songs - I was actually surpised that he'd written all these songs and more!
But the bottom line is, Cole Porter wrote pop songs. At least, they were pop songs when he wrote them. So who better to sing them than pop singers? And they sound great! I needed to make a stop on my way home to pick up the soundtrack.
It's funny, it's sad, it's pretty...and it's probably going to get some mention at the Oscars.