Embrace the bitter and post your own reviews!

Elegy (2008) *PBB

 

Note: Some reviews were written before we just about gave up on Hollywood--just like one of those couples that think, "This time it'll work out." These reviews may not be as bitter as the Bitter Balcony norm, and are noted by: *PBB (Pre-Bitter Balcony).

Elegy (2008)
Director: Isabel Coixet
Starring Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz, Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard
Based on the novel "The Dying Animal" by Philip Roth

David Kapesh (Ben Kingsley) is an early 60's, self-indulgent, womanizing, highly intellectual Literature Professor in New York who seems to enjoy his profession as a vehicle to divulge his knowledge of the written word as well as a means to seduce impressionable, eager young women. He spends his time in between lectures playing racquetball, drinking, and comparing notes on his conquests with his best friend and equally crafted womanizer George (Dennis Hooper), who takes it a step above single David as a cheating husband. David, who hasn't remarried since his youth in the free- for- all 1960's, lives with a disdain for the stability, or as he refers to as a "prison", of the nuptials, with also causes a severe rift with his stern, "happily married" 35 year old son Kenny (Peter Sarsgaard), to the point that one questions who is really the elder man. The only constant for David is Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson), his routine lover who after two divorces and a career as a traveling businesswoman, has found in David a partner of affection without the emotional drawbacks of commitment. The promiscuity of David's sexual life has been a been a chalice of which David drinks from the Fountain of Youth, regenerating his rebellious soul with the excitement of initial desire and copulation, but has also kept him from facing the realities of aging and mortality. When the new school semester starts, a gorgeous, Asturian-like Latin girl Consuela (Penelope Cruz) enters his classroom, David goes on the prowl to quench his thirst once more. However, what was suppose to be the courting of mutual benefit (David would get another notch on his belt while Consuela would get the spoils and luxuries a man of prestige can only offer) drives David into a state of vulnerability only spelled by the diction of the heart.

In Elegy, Isabel Coixet, a talented Spanish director, has shifted her interests from past female protagonists to focus on the less fairer sex. She has given the unattached and superficial nature of male virility an involved study and, most importantly, understanding that perhaps would have been overlooked by a male counterpart. David's story could easily become a tale ala Charles Bukowski or Henry Miller, driven by long legs, firm breasts, and smooth hair, but what Coixet does is subdue the lust and upscale the longing as David wrestles his attachment to Consuela as he assumes he could never truly have her. For David, to accept the love of Consuela would be to mature, which is also accepting his mortality. After David decides to make the "wise" choice and let Consuela go, the resonance of his friend George's advice that "we should stop worrying about getting old and worry about growing up" hits David. Alone in his apartment, the leaves of his plant fall on the table and whit brown; When he walks the streets of New York, he stands still while the pedestrians move at the speed of light. The sex between him and Carolyn loses it energy, they sit on the couch and come to grips with being old. The bitterness between David and Kenny becomes the spark that pulls them together when Kenny gets into an affair with a married mother. Their scenes are simple, and Coixet uses a single take in the kitchen to capture the debating nature of father and son like if it was an eternal interrogation. When David and Consuela meet again, the unexpected prospect of death unites the lovers once more. He captures her body with his film camera, immortalizing her in flesh and soul.

Ben Kingsley is amazing as David. He plays him with rigor, confidence and charisma, and displays it securely with his fitness and endurance. However, it is when his heart is wounded that Kingsley shines, since most of those traits mask the sadness of a man in love. Penelope Cruz has her best English speaking role with Consuela, and exhibits in the young heroine the strength of a woman who accepts her love for a man 30 years her senior, but who will not compromise her dignity for David's indecision. I wasn't a big fan of Cruz's acting, but with Volver and her Award winning turn in Vicky,Christina, Barcelona, I'm starting to appreciate her more. All the other performances are good as well, especially Peter Sarsgaard, who as the reluctant son, has officially and successfully entered adulthood roles. Goodbye, Jarhead, Garden State, and The Center of the World, hello fatherhood and adultery.





Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

 

Note: Some reviews were written before we just about gave up on Hollywood--just like one of those couples that think, "This time it'll work out." These reviews may not be as bitter as the Bitter Balcony norm, and are noted by: *PBB (Pre-Bitter Balcony).

Elegy (2008)
Director: Isabel Coixet
Starring Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz, Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard
Based on the novel "The Dying Animal" by Philip Roth

David Kapesh (Ben Kingsley) is an early 60's, self-indulgent, womanizing, highly intellectual Literature Professor in New York who seems to enjoy his profession as a vehicle to divulge his knowledge of the written word as well as a means to seduce impressionable, eager young women. He spends his time in between lectures playing racquetball, drinking, and comparing notes on his conquests with his best friend and equally crafted womanizer George (Dennis Hooper), who takes it a step above single David as a cheating husband. David, who hasn't remarried since his youth in the free- for- all 1960's, lives with a disdain for the stability, or as he refers to as a "prison", of the nuptials, with also causes a severe rift with his stern, "happily married" 35 year old son Kenny (Peter Sarsgaard), to the point that one questions who is really the elder man. The only constant for David is Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson), his routine lover who after two divorces and a career as a traveling businesswoman, has found in David a partner of affection without the emotional drawbacks of commitment. The promiscuity of David's sexual life has been a been a chalice of which David drinks from the Fountain of Youth, regenerating his rebellious soul with the excitement of initial desire and copulation, but has also kept him from facing the realities of aging and mortality. When the new school semester starts, a gorgeous, Asturian-like Latin girl Consuela (Penelope Cruz) enters his classroom, David goes on the prowl to quench his thirst once more. However, what was suppose to be the courting of mutual benefit (David would get another notch on his belt while Consuela would get the spoils and luxuries a man of prestige can only offer) drives David into a state of vulnerability only spelled by the diction of the heart.

In Elegy, Isabel Coixet, a talented Spanish director, has shifted her interests from past female protagonists to focus on the less fairer sex. She has given the unattached and superficial nature of male virility an involved study and, most importantly, understanding that perhaps would have been overlooked by a male counterpart. David's story could easily become a tale ala Charles Bukowski or Henry Miller, driven by long legs, firm breasts, and smooth hair, but what Coixet does is subdue the lust and upscale the longing as David wrestles his attachment to Consuela as he assumes he could never truly have her. For David, to accept the love of Consuela would be to mature, which is also accepting his mortality. After David decides to make the "wise" choice and let Consuela go, the resonance of his friend George's advice that "we should stop worrying about getting old and worry about growing up" hits David. Alone in his apartment, the leaves of his plant fall on the table and whit brown; When he walks the streets of New York, he stands still while the pedestrians move at the speed of light. The sex between him and Carolyn loses it energy, they sit on the couch and come to grips with being old. The bitterness between David and Kenny becomes the spark that pulls them together when Kenny gets into an affair with a married mother. Their scenes are simple, and Coixet uses a single take in the kitchen to capture the debating nature of father and son like if it was an eternal interrogation. When David and Consuela meet again, the unexpected prospect of death unites the lovers once more. He captures her body with his film camera, immortalizing her in flesh and soul.

Ben Kingsley is amazing as David. He plays him with rigor, confidence and charisma, and displays it securely with his fitness and endurance. However, it is when his heart is wounded that Kingsley shines, since most of those traits mask the sadness of a man in love. Penelope Cruz has her best English speaking role with Consuela, and exhibits in the young heroine the strength of a woman who accepts her love for a man 30 years her senior, but who will not compromise her dignity for David's indecision. I wasn't a big fan of Cruz's acting, but with Volver and her Award winning turn in Vicky,Christina, Barcelona, I'm starting to appreciate her more. All the other performances are good as well, especially Peter Sarsgaard, who as the reluctant son, has officially and successfully entered adulthood roles. Goodbye, Jarhead, Garden State, and The Center of the World, hello fatherhood and adultery.





Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

Comments, rants and other stuffs below