Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
ELEGY MOVIE REVIEW
Directed by: Isabel Coixet
Running time: 106 minutes
Release date: August 8, 2008
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
MPAA Rating: R
ELEGY is a drama set in New York City. It is based on the short novel "The Dying Animal" by Pulitzer Prize winner Phillip Roth. This film stars Sir Ben Kingsley as "baby-boomer era" David Kepesh who is a cultural critic and college professor. The story charts the passionate love affair between Kepesh and his young and beautiful Cuban - American graduate student, Consuela Castillo (Penelope Cruz).
David lives his life as an emancipated man and has a regular (every couple of weeks) sexual relationship with a middle age business woman named Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson) who doesn't want any commitments. I'll advance the narrative through introspection, rather than dialogue, and give the backstory of this protagonist. He is a man who left his wife and son during the 1960's sexual revolution, vowing to indulge his erotic beliefs. Kepesh shares his ideals and ways with present day best buddy George O'Hearn (Dennis Hopper) who happens to be a married adulterer.
However, when David meets Consuela, he is overwhelmed by her and soon he loses control of his vows. It seems that she has a strong sense of herself and an emotional intensity that challenges his preconceptions. David's need for her becomes an obsession, ultimately displaying jealousy and driving her away.
When this cast was assembled, director Isabel Coixet must have known that this would be a powerhouse ensemble. British actor Sir Ben Kingsley started his career in TV and film in the mid 1960s and has expertly played in the genres of drama, comedy, adventure, thriller, crime, action, sci-fi and documentary. He is one in a handful of worldwide great actors who has no boundaries to his craft. Kingsley remarkably displays that talent in this "Oscar Worthy" film. The chemistry shared on screen with 2 time Goya award winner, 2 time European Film award winner and Academy Award nominated Penelope Cruz is amazing.
There wasn't a single flaw in any of the performances. Veteran actor Dennis Hopper, who is known for playing nervy "off the hook" characters since his start in 1955, at 72 years old still has the ability to nail his character down to perfection. The roles that Patricia Clarkson plays are as varied as the platform on which she plays them. Her sex appeal on screen in this film is a dimension of her work that is rarely seen but impressively done. Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Kenny Kespesh (David's adult son) a supporting character, adds the backstory of a son who grows up without his biological father being there for him in times of need. Deborah Harry is also in the film playing Amy O'Hearn, the wife of George (David's adulterous best buddy).
The storyline takes a few twists and turns; however, what is most important is that after David and Consuela's break up, they find each other again under desperate circumstances. These circumstances force David to take a thorough look at himself, his life and his love for Consuela.
This is a film earmarked for the "Oscar Race," so don't pass this film by.
FILM RATING (A+)