Trying to make amends for the laughably inept first Cole Porter biopic (Night and Day, 1946, which starred Cary Grant as an ultra-straight Porter), director Irwin Winkler presents a new version for the hip, out generation, De-Lovely (2004). It’s better, but not quite a total success. Sure, it presents Porter as gay, but it also depicts him as carrying a torch for wife Linda (a radiant Ashley Judd) that overrides everything in his life. Both fabulously wealthy when they met, they had a marriage of convenience that suited them both. He needed a cover, and she provided the café society uptick.
Porter’s catalog of standards (out of context and chronology) illustrates his life as stage show, much like Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz. There’s an artful rundown of songs, sung anachronistically (in both style and musical arrangements by pop artists such as Robbie Williams, Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette and Natalie Cole) — the whole looking glamorous and air-brushed under Tony Pierce-Roberts’s shimmering cinematography, the costume design provided by Giorgio Armani and Janty Yates, and the sparkling deco production design by Eve Stewart and John Hill.