The Cat's Meow (2002)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Satire, Period Film, Showbiz Drama, Comedy of Manners  |   Release Date - Apr 12, 2002 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 114 min.  |   Countries - Canada, Germany, United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

The Cat's Meow is that increasingly rare American film, a classically composed movie narrative that uses an intriguing "what if" scenario to delve into complex matters of character and the heart. Captivated by the Hollywood Babylon legend regarding Thomas Ince's untimely demise ever since friend/idol/mentor Orson Welles mentioned it to him, film history buff Peter Bogdanovich frames the action aboard the Hearst yacht in assured, unobtrusive long takes that let moods of bright public hysteria and private conflicted anguish tellingly coexist. Though the idea of Hollywood venality is nothing new, Bogdanovich's sensitivity for the Hearst-Davies relationship and the consequences of hubris, unsurprisingly, enable Edward Herrmann's W.R. and Kirsten Dunst's incandescent Marion to be complicated, sympathetic figures rather than period caricatures. Eddie Izzard's lascivious Chaplin, Cary Elwes' scheming Ince, and Joanna Lumley's humorously tart Elinor Glyn also inject the tale with broad, energetic life. Jennifer Tilly's grating Louella Parsons is not so fortunate. Though The Cat's Meow is a well-crafted amusement, whether anyone outside of devout cineastes will care enough about a collection of deceased jazz age icons to return Bogdanovich to Hollywood's good graces after nearly a decade remains questionable.