The public and private lives of famed songwriter Cole Porter are both explored in this musical drama, in which the aging Porter (played by Kevin Kline) looks back on his life while watching a rehearsal of a stage musical based on his story. As Porter compares notes on the play with director Gabe (Jonathan Pryce), he shares thoughts on his rise to fame in the mid-'20s, writing witty and sophisticated tunes for a string of successful Broadway musicals. Porter seemed to be living a charmed life when he met Linda Thomas (Ashley Judd), a beautiful American woman who, like Porter, was enjoying a sojourn in Paris following the collapse of her first marriage. Thomas is immediately taken with Porter, whose intelligence and charm is a welcome change after her brutal first husband, and the two discover they share a remarkable understanding of one another. Porter and Thomas marry, even though she's aware that her new husband is gay; Thomas is willing to forgive Porter's indiscretions with other men in favor of the emotional support he brings her. However, as the years wear on and the couple takes up residence in Hollywood as Porter begins writing tunes for motion pictures, Thomas finds Porter drifting away from her as his liaisons become more frequent and more serious. Then tragedy enters their life when Porter loses the use of his legs in a riding accident and Thomas is diagnosed with cancer. De-Lovely features a number of noted pop singers interpreting classic songs from Porter's catalog, including Diana Krall, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Elvis Costello, Robbie Williams, Mick Hucknall, and others.
by Mark Deming synopsis