AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

7/2/08

Elegy Movie Review: Penelope Cruz Boob Fetish Blues

By Prairie Miller

Movies by and about women don't necessarily, sorry to say, identify with women. In disappointing contrast to Italian director Cecilia Miniucchi's Expired, where Samantha Morton informs her macho moron leading man, 'You don't make love to a body, you make love to a woman,' in Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet's Elegy, Penelope Cruz's gullible college coed swoons when the lecherous lecturer played by Ben Kingsley confesses that he's fallen in love with her breasts. You've come a long way backwards, baby.

Based on the Philip Roth novella, The Dying Animal, Elegy is one of those pseudo-intellectual romps in which the classical music backdrop, fine wines and high minded existential gab as cunning seductive foreplay, make its run of the mill sleazy sexism all right. Ben Kingsley is David Kapesh in Elegy, an aging divorced English literature professor at Columbia University, who seems to have made his career choice based on all the worshipful young coeds he can charm into bed on a regular basis.

But the tables are turned when Kapesh is hit with a late midlife crisis schoolboy crush on his student Consuela (Penelope Cruz), a mysterious Cuban-American with a provocative air of elusive innocence. Assuming a rationalized role as Conseula's educational advisor, Kapesh dedicates himself to assisting this female whom he's certain 'isn't sure what to do with her beauty,' while violating his own cardinal rule that he'll never seduce his students 'until they've gotten their grades.'

As a heated romance materializes between the two, Kapesh is also cheating on his longtime middle aged lover, Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson, in her second, increasingly typecast older actress role in less than a year, after Married Life, where she's likewise dumped for a younger woman). But it's an okay, guilt-free betrayal folks, because Carolyn is only interested in pure sex in a permanent relationship. Whew. In any case, to sum up these shady proceedings, Kapesh announces to himself, 'We talked about Kafka and Goya, but mainly I wanted to fuck her.' Words of wisdom from his colleague and friend (Dennis Hopper) to break off this destructive and doomed relationship, go unheeded.

Eventually lust for her young body that he has objectified into a tantalizing work of art, morphs into obsession. And Kapesh is overcome with high anxiety that Conseula will eventually leave her lover over thirty years her senior, for a younger man. And soon his possessiveness begins to drive her away.

Elegy holds initial interest as an intelligent, introspective mood piece about the inevitable mirrored mortality of life and love. But the movie wears out its welcome from too much sulking and its digression into disease of the week fare, with at least two illnesses on hand.

On a side note, the NYC Columbia University setting by way of Vancouver, is an additional false irritant. And as a graduate of Columbia, I can attest to the fact that this movie college that plays out more like a male fantasyland party hard, 24/7 sex den rather than a serious and transformative learning experience enclave, could only exist on another planet.

Samuel Goldwyn Films
Rated R
2 stars

Prairie Miller

1 comment:

  1. Tthis film is for men, about men; their failure to sustain a meaningful relationship because they tend to be so hung up on what a woman looks like rather than what she says and where she comes from

    Elegy with all the trappings of a women's move, the love relationship and the powerful male actors, fell short of its promise.

    Unanswered questions remain: who were Penelope Cruz's friends,

    what was her life away from Ben Kingsley?

    what was there aside from his position in life, that she felt drawn to

    i don't have to ask what the big attraction of her breasts were because Phillip Roth's book "the Breast" tells all and with a mix of that masterpiece, Portnoy's Complaint there is a consistent problem of inability to understand more than half the world's population that permeates seemingly all of Mr.Roth's work

    With the long pauses viewers were afforded amble opportunity to fill in the blanks; to bring to the film their background, their life experience.

    For me it afforded another visit with my distant past when my essentially silent husband dominated or tried to, our life
    My question during the last stages of our marriage was, when will this end and how


    Those are the same questions I found myself asking as i sat through this tedious vacuous film where there were so few words spoken that even a nap here and there did not detract from its essence I rate this film a 2 because it promised so much and gave so little


    linda Z

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