Friday, March 28, 2014

"Elegy" - a 2008 adaption of Philip Roth's short story

The French philosopher Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld famously wrote: ‘few know how to get Old……”. One of the most difficult stages in life comes with the comprehension that the body is aging and there isn’t much time left. The exuberanceand immortality that youth promises melts away with passing years, and all the education, culture and religion of this world cannot help console or retract us from the inevitable. We cling to our passions with a thin straw hoping against hope that a miracle will happen, and we shall be forever bask in the shadow of this human shell.. The 2008 movie, “Elegy” is based on this theme. Philip Roth, the Pulitzer winning novelist sketched a short story titled “the Dying animal”, about an aging art critic who hops from one relationship to the other without any emotional commitment, until he meets a young, beautiful Cuban girl - a student in his class; and engages in a passionate physical relationship with her. Kepesh – the name of the professor, ratiocinates to his friend about the physical nature of love and the need to be unattached to any long standing relationship; but by and by, he finds that his platonic lust for this young nubile body has given rise to tormenting jealousies, inferiority complexes and a vague sense of unrest within him. He wants to possess the girl completely, without giving it the name of love or the bonds of commitment. The story then takes quite a nice turn until Kepesh realizes the need to embrace broader boundaries of a relationship than merely dwelling in the physical wetness of lust. It is a beautiful story written sensitively by Roth and brilliantly captured by Isabel Coixet on screen...

Ben Kingsley plays the old man and Penelope Cruz, the sultry Latin girl who incites the senses of the professor. Who can deny the talent of Kingsley? Nourished in the world of Shakespearean drama, fine-tuned by some of the finest Directors of the age, Kingsley gives a magnificent performance as a lusty intellectual with raw energy that needs to be expended in the coils of coital passion. Penelope Cruz! What a sculpture she is... A picture perfect body and a gift to carry it with nonchalant ease on screen; she matches the artistry of Ben Kingsley frame to Frame. It is she who holds the movie together. The Chemistry between Kingsley and Cruz lights up the screen, despite their vast differences in age. The movie demanded a deep understanding of Roth’s underlying message of aging gracefully with emotional and intellectual maturity, and it seems that both these actors have imbibed that message wonderfully well. The cinematography is delightful with subtle play of light and shadows, enhancing the emotional intensity of critical parts in the tale. A wee bit slow paced, but I guess, that is unavoidable given that the story is one of inner awakening and realization; and it takes time to develop such a theme. Chopin’s etudes for the piano in the background softly emphasizes the ebbing and waning of passion, pathos and its interludes. The lingering keystrokes – a sign of Chopin’s compositions, pulls and tugs at our emotional heartstrings.

This is not a film for entertainment. It is a study of Human nature. Somewhere in the film, it touches some deep chords within us and evokes some uneasy questions about the way we feel and think. That is the purpose of art, and this movie fulfills it…..

Watch it if you like the art of Good film making...

God bless......


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