By Jack Rico
Rated: R for sexuality, nudity and language.
Release Date: 2008-08-08
Starring: Nicholas Meyer
Official Website: http://www.onpictures.com/peliculas/elegy/index.htm
Catalan film director Isabel Coixet won various Goya awards in Spain (equivalent to the Oscars in the US) in 2006 for a small English spoken film called ‘The Secret Life of Words’ (La Vida Secreta de las Palabras) starring Tim Robbins and Canadian actress Sarah Polley. An ironic event since her native tongue isn’t even Spanish. Now, two years later, Coixet is at it again, in the Anglo-Saxon language, as she teams up with screenwriter Nicholas Meyer to bring to the big screen ‘Elegy’, starring Ben Kinglsley and Penélope Cruz.
The premise, based on Philip Roth’s short novel ‘The Dying Animal’, tells the story of the relationship between literature professor David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley), who is renowned for his cultural pedigree and Consuela Castillo (Penélope Cruz), his young and sensual Cuban student who falls in love with him.
But there is more here than just sexual play, the narrative essentially centers on how Kepesh deals with the fear that Consuela may leave him because of his age (thought to be around 55 or 60). Kingsley gives a charming and engaging performance that could be his best work in years. Cruz complements him beautifully as she plays the part of the erotic muse to perfection. Great dialogue, fabulous acting by a strong supporting cast (Dennis Hopper and Patricia Clarkson), along with unexpected sub-plots keep you absorbed for the entirety of the film.
A note, if you’ve been watching summer blockbuster Hollywood films one after another, the normal pacing of this film will either be a drastic change for you or a sight for sore eyes. I’ve noticed that after sitting in a dark theater consuming films the likes of ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Mummy’, you become rather impatient with mid-tempo cinema. ‘Fight through it’, I say ardently! Elegy will be worth your troubles.