Film review by: Witney Seibold




            Spanish director Isabel Coixet’s romance “Elegy” is a perfectly dreary affair. It creeps depressingly along like a heavy grey raincloud, and dissipates into a gust of dried-out apathy. It’s a film about the painful self-destructive patters we find ourselves repeating, despite the fact that we know we are intelligent, and know we know better. By the end of the film, everyone knows themselves a little bit better, but no one has been saved, and everyone is lonely.


            Ben Kingsley makes a terrific turn in the role of Prof. David Kepesh, a man who feels he is staring mortality down the gullet, and can only escape by flirting with his teenaged students and having a no-strings-attached affair with a colleague (Patricia Clarkson). One of his students, a passionate Spaniard named Consuela (Penelope Cruz) catches his eye, and he begins to have a proper affair. It’s clear that these two passionate, poetic intellects are very right for one another (they like the same poems, are good in bed together, and are mutually fulfilling their unmade longings), but both are a little scared. David is especially put off by their age difference, and is only more confused by the dubious advice from his charismatic best friend (Dennis Hopper). Eventually, doubt gets the better of him, and David, cowardly, breaks things off with Consuela. She vanishes from his life. It’s all David can do, now, to keep his newly found lonliness at bay.


            Deborah Harry appears as Dennis Hopper’s long-suffering wife.


            On one level, “Elegy” is a deep and penetrating drama into the nature of self-doubt, loss, and loneliness. One another level, it’s a self-indulgent, aggressively self-pitying, unnecessarily dreary piece of theatrical melodrama. It rides the line. When it’s good, it’s enjoyable and wonderful, but when it dips too far in the other direction, it can start to feel mildly insufferable.


            Luckily, the strength of the performances keeps it afloat most of the time. Kingsley, even in small and insignificant roles, can steal a show, and it’s nice to see him give a soulful and passionate and even occasionally funny performance in a leading position. Cruz is pretty and plays her character to the hilt, hiding inside of Consuela. Hopper is seems to serve as the comic relief, and manages to brighten the screen. Yes, Dennis Hopper, well known for playing psychopaths and weirdos and heavies, is effective as comic relief.

Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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