Intolerable Cruelty ★★★★

Just when I think I have the Coen Brothers figured out, they pull the rug from under me yet again. Intolerable Cruelty, with George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, could not have looked more like a shlocky rom-com if it tried. The story of a gold-digging social climber matching up against a divorce attorney doesn't exactly scream quality, but my god this was actually hilarious.

After being a long-time skeptic of George Clooney, recognising him chiefly as a man who could definitely threaten my family's stability if he ever showed interest in my mother, I have finally come around to acknowledge him as a terrifically funny actor. I loved his moronic cluelessness in Burn After Reading, but here he combines the shit-eating grins and charisma of, well, being George Clooney, and the sense of genuinely being out of his depth in a way that had me smiling for so much of the runtime. Opposite him, Zeta-Jones delivers by far the best I have ever seen from her as a painfully beautiful ice queen who toys with every last person she encounters. She bounced off Clooney incredibly well and it's literally impossible to solve the enigma of her until it's too late and you're won over.

I spent almost this entire movie laughing. It definitely felt a lot like Burn After Reading at times, with it's reflections on life's randomness so thoroughly amusing and array of characters with so many personalities had me constantly chuckling. Paul Edelstein shines like a supernova as a way-too-emotional hypeman for Clooney, while Richard Jenkins serves up a hilariously subtle turn as a lawyer who seems to know that he's dealing with George Clooney playing a lawyer, rather than an actual lawyer. Maybe I'm saying lawyer too much. There's a good chance you'll think that the movie does too. That or 'prenup'.

I'm well aware that this is one of the Coens' least admired films, but it felt so incredibly sharp and funny to me that I feel like I need to give half of what I've seen from them a reappraisal. Hell, I might even stick back on the soul-sucking A Serious Man one day.