Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Elegy (2008)

I've noticed a trend with the two-hour movie. The first hour presents itself almost freestanding from the second, until the second hour where the halves come together. After the first hour of Elegy, I thought what now? The movie felt finished, yet an hour remained.

David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) is a culture critic. He meets Consuela (Penélope Cruz) in his classroom--he's the professor to her student. At the term end, he hosts a party and they strike up conversation. Shortly thereafter, they begin courting. She's 30-some years his junior but that doesn't stop them; they click. Kepesh has never let himself really love any woman--not his ex-wife, not Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson) his no-strings-attached lover of almost two decades. Although, he loves Consuela and she returns his affections, he goes mad with jealousy, something he's not felt. They work through it, but he's unable to let himself get close. His distance is palpable and ultimately he destroys the relationship--all in the first hour. So, whatKingsley and Cruz vis–à–vis the heck was going to happen during the 2nd hour? I ended up preferring the second hour (also a trend). I was surprised by the second-hour events; I liked the movie very much once the second hour kicked in. It felt more real then--the characters dealing with the issues--loneliness, fear and, ultimately, facing their feelings. The movie is melancholy and sad but also hopeful...hopeful that things can change regardless of time passed. There was connection in the unlikely coupling of Cruz and Kingsley. Other notable cast includes Dennis Hopper and Deborah Harry. Based on a the Philip Roth novel, The Dying Animal, the movie title, Elegy, is fitting--about flubbed opportunities and letting someone go. What if you had a second chance at making it right, especially if the one was in need?

Director: Isabel Coixet

Country: US

Genre: Drama

Run time: 110 minutes

Scale: 3.75