The soundtrack to De-Lovely — a film that imagines the unusual love story and marriage of classic American songwriter Cole Porter (who was gay) and Linda Lee Porter as the kind of all-singing, all-dancing production for which Porter himself might have written the songs — is a whirl of contrasting, and occasionally clashing, performances that tries to embody the many sides of Porter‘s music. Porterwas able to write profoundly romantic love songs and whimsical, witty, devil-may-care tunes with equal conviction, and De-Lovely tends to polarize these aspects. Elvis Costello‘s “Let’s Misbehave,” Mick Hucknall‘s “I Love You,” and the cast’s rendition of “Be a Clown” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” are highly theatrical, and Costello‘s performance nearly crosses the line dividing playful and jokey. The set-piece quality of “Anything Goes” and the rehearsal-like “Night and Day” might disappoint some Porter fans looking for De-Lovely to double as a greatest-hits collection, but the stagy quality of the album emphasizes that it is first and foremost a soundtrack (to a musical production within the film, no less). It should come as no surprise, then, that the many pop, jazz, and rock star cameos have a costumey, dress-up feel, but a surprising number of them work well. “Begin the Beguine”‘s silky melody combined with Sheryl Crow‘s husky voice makes for an appealing contrast, and Alanis Morissette‘s refined turn on “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” underscores the influence of Björk‘s vocal phrasing on Morissette‘s singing. Robbie Williams also cleans up well, contributing a version of the title track that winks just enough. Somewhat more surprising is the fact that De-Lovely’s actors provide some of the soundtrack’s best moments. Kevin Kline‘s considerable musical skills make him an apt Cole Porter, and Ashley Judd’s girlish, unadorned vocals add some intimacy to De-Lovely‘s larger-than-life feel, especially on the sweet duet with Tayler Hamilton, “True Love.” Other highlights include swell-egant renditions of “What Is This Thing Called Love?,” “Love for Sale,” and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” by Lemar, Vivian Green, and Natalie Cole, respectively. Along with Diana Krall‘s “It Was Just One of Those Things” and Lara Fabian and Mario Frangoulis‘ “So in Love,” these are performances by artists in their element, and they retain their own identities while fitting in with the rest of the soundtrack. De-Lovely is long and often scattered, but its attempts to breathe new life into Porter‘s work are admirable, even if they’re not always successful.
Video – De-Lovely