The War of the Roses (1989)

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One of the great dark comedies of the late 1980s, The War of the Roses saw the combo of Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner team up once more in a brutal battle of the sexes.  Directed by Danny DeVito, The War of the Roses split the public down gender.

Oliver Rose (Douglas) met and fell in love with Barbara (Turner), marrying her impulsively.  There early years were spent with Oliver trying to get ahead in his law firm and Barbara trying to perfect the house that they bought.  All the while, the couple was growing apart.  So when the house was completed, Barbara found the chasm wider than she thought.

She tried to fill the emptiness with a catering business, but she could not cook away the pain.  When she finally asked for a divorce, Oliver could not believe it.  Barbara wanted no alimony… all she wanted was the house.  Oliver would not give it to her.

And the War of the Roses was underway.

It was amazing how this movie split the sexes.  Males thought that Barbara was mostly at fault in the interaction between the couple while females thought that the fault laid at the feet of Oliver.  Plenty of couples drew lines in opposition much like the Roses did.  The fact that everybody could legitimately back one or the other by gender meant that people identified with them.  It speaks to how well written the movie was.

Of course, there was great chemistry with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.  They had made several movies together by now and they were able to show the dark side of love as well.  Both actors turned crazy and they clearly had a blast doing it.

Danny DeVito’s character, one of Oliver’s friends and fellow attorneys, Gavin, was used as the narrator of the story.  He told the tragic tale of the Roses to another client looking to divorce his wife.  Gavin’s narration worked brilliantly as the foreshadowing told us something horrible was going to happen.  The story built to a amazing showdown and a stunning ending.  I remember when I first saw it, I was totally shocked at what happened in the end.

The War of the Roses was a darkly funny movie with great performances throughout.  Whether you mostly blamed Oliver or mostly blamed Barbara probably depended on what sex you are, and that is really epic.


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