Sunday, November 16, 2008


DAN - Isabel Coixet’s most recent film is based on a novel by Philip Roth. Roth has been known to write stories that feature sexually promiscuous characters, and this one is no exception. Elegy is the story of David Kepesh, a professor who becomes infatuated with Consuela, a student in one of his classes.

The film features Sir Ben Kingsley and Penélope Cruz as the two central characters. These roles require heartfelt performances from the actors, and they are successful for the most part. At times Kingsley seems detached from his character. He tends to stare blankly, which forced me to remember that I was sitting in a theatre, watching a movie. Dennis Hopper plays a supporting role in this film that, in my opinion, is one of the most authentic of his career. Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard round out this noteworthy cast.

At first glance, the story may seem somewhat shallow. The relationship that develops between Kepesh and Consuela is immensely physical. Kepesh is accustomed to having flings with a number of women, but through the course of the film, he and Consuela experience a great deal of change.

At this film’s center are themes of fear, change, and loss. Kepesh becomes enraptured by his mistress, and he fears that she will eventually realize their age difference and lose interest in him. At the same time, Consuela wants their relationship to last, but her lover’s fears are apparent to her.

The characters’ motives are never made entirely clear, which allows for some healthy speculation. It’s worth noting that the novel on which this film is based is entitled The Dying Animal. It’s not made clear to whom this title refers, but I would suggest that the “animal” is Kepesh, whose behavior is somewhat animalistic. The transformation of Kepesh in this film is preceded by this quote from Hopper’s character: “We’re so dazzled by the outside that we never make it inside.” Consuela provides him with a second chance at something more than a physical romance.

I saw Elegy in a screening at the Canton Palace Theatre. Each Thursday, the Palace shows films that wouldn’t normally appear in mainstream theatres, and they always make for great conversation. If you live in the Canton area, I encourage you to visit to see what’s playing next.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I'm very interested to see this movie - I read a first or second draft of the script about 2 years ago and thought it was terrible. I'm interested to see how much changed from that original script and what the director did to bring it to life.