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Summary: Cultural critic David Kepesh finds his life -- which he indicates is a state of "emancipated manhood" -- thrown into tragic disarray by Consuela Castillo, a well-mannered student who awakens a sense of sexual possessiveness in her teacher.
It is a pity that the director of this film seemed to grasp neither the characters of the novel, nor the milieu in which they dwelled, nor the intentions of the author. Almost every gesture of the performers, whether large or small, sounded a false note, and one utterly incongruent with Roth's fine book. The fault, however, does not lie with the actors, nor even with the script, but overwhelmingly with the director, who compounded error upon error. The result is both frustrating and tedious.
Fascinating study of love, lust, aging and death - no really. Kingsley plays an initially unlikeably aloof poet professor whose brash exterior and ordered existence is disrupted by the beautiful young Cruz. This relationship forms the core of the film but an impressive supporting cast flesh out Kingsley's other relationships. A thought provoking moving script is the icing on the cake.
One of the main problems was trying to believe that a pretty young woman could be attracted to a wizened, leathery old troll with an ego to match his nose size. But even letting that go, the movie had a sluggish story and took some unexpected and unwarranted directions in the second half. Most of the time the atmosphere it created was just unpleasant, creepy and stifling. The characters were just too unsympathetic, all of them.
Somewhat short of being a great film. The actors and performances are all very good here, and the movie does a relatively good job of touching upon some timeless themes - aging and dying, romantic love in its many aspects (passion, companionship, betrayal). I'd say its worth watching, but don't expect to be completely captivated.
Starts off resembling a lifeless New Yorker story of a May/December romance, but progressively adds new dimensions & insights 2 become a subtle, thoughtful exploration of the struggle between lust/love & reason, &, more powerfully, the costs of the lives we don't choose. It's a clever sleight of hand as the always-stunning shots of Cruz initially seem 2 suggest Kingsley is mourning lost youth, but by the end the real grieving is over the life of relative "maturity" he's never had.
Mixed feelings while watching it: Ben Kingsley and PenÚlope Cruz were perfectly cast, both giving what may be one of their best performances to date. But the execution of some scenes could've been handled better, I think the film is too much in love with itself and it doesn't give you any time to breath or to think things through. Although a bit sad, and leaning more towards adults, it's definitely not a bad film, just flawed.
I like all main actors and the director did her part good, but the story was kind of shorter than the movie. It might work better as a short movie. The voice-over did not work nice in here. It was interesting to see this flick immediately after Suden vuosi (The Year of the Wolf) by Olli Saarela: both movies are dealing with a relationship between older man and younger woman. BTW, it was nice to see Blondie acting again.
Though Elegy looked somewhat boring to me when I saw its preview, I actually found the story pretty interesting. The major theme of the movie is 'growing old' and although I can't quite relate to that (yet), it is still something I've thought about. Of course, there isn't a lot of excitement or action in this movie. So, don't expect anything like that. However, PenÚlope Cruz has some pretty decent nude scenes, so even if you are bored with the plot, you'll have something to look forward to.
Elegy is a flawed film that could have been very much worth your time. But it makes a crucial misstep with its ending, and it never manages to recover from this. It might have if more than one of its characters were developed, or if it hadn't essentially killed one of them off for the thirty minutes preceding a "shocking" revelation, but since that didn't happen, I stopped caring. Growing old might suck, but spending precious hours watching Elegy isn't worth it.
Starting Out in the Evening (2007) has a similar theme, a stronger script, and, arguably, better performances. I like to see Penelope Cruz in the nude as much as the next guy, but I had trouble with the fact that the 38 year old actress was playing the role of an undergraduate. That aside, she delivers a strong, sympathetic performance. Kingsley's character is her foil. He is not a nice man, and the actor doesn't try to humanize his character. That kind of restraint is admirable.
Themes of May-December romance and death (meaning the end of life and the end of love) gets interwined in this little film directed by Isabel Coixet. It benefits from being based on the book by quite a few intersting dialogues. Directing could have been just a bit better, because there are some rough edges in pacing, and same could be said about Ben Kingsley's character, but in the end this film is a rewarding experience.
The women in this movie are exceptional. Patricia Clarkson is amazing, and Penelope Cruz is desire incarnate and absolutely stunning. Ben Kingsley sometimes seemed
miscast as the love interest. A middle aged man and his quest for love and happiness, falls desperately in love with a young woman, frustrated by it, and then mourns her loss. Deeply affected by her, he finds that he is just a shell of the man he used to be. Several pearls of wisdom. Slightly sad but good ending.