Tuesday, November 13, 2007

(:)(:)(: for Love in the Time of the Cholera

Two and a half snouts up for Love in the Time of the Cholera soon to be playing in a theater near you. Beautifully filmed and costumed, with an able performance by Javier Bordem in the lead role, nevertheless the film cannot transcend a stagnant screenplay and some atrocious performances (not mention casting choices).

I was looking forward to the first adaptation for the screen that I have seen of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book. This was a beautiful book, which I urge you to read. Fortunately or not, I remember little of it. I was able to simply experience this as a film, unfettered by the book.

Nonetheless, it doesn't work. The single worst problem being Italian actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno in the lead female role of Fermina Daza. Her cold withholding performance and tired screen presence leave every doubt as to how Florentino Ariza (Javier Bordem) could possibly pine away for her for 51 years. There is no chemistry or energy between the two of the them. Her side of the story is not believable.

Having said this, somehow within the constraints of a weak script and a terrible leading "actress," Bordem's character comes to life. I absolutely believed that he was a mild-mannered clerk bedding over 600 women while he waits "with fidelity" for Fermina's husband to die.

One problem is that Fermina's husband Juvenal Urbino is played so well by Benjamin Bratt, that you can't believe Fermina could have lacked for anything--he comes across as handsome, loving and wonderful, the ideal husband, save for a brief affair later in the marriage.

Finally, in 2007 I consider it an unforgiveable choice to create the movie, set in turn of the (previous) century Columbia, in heavily-accented English instead of Spanish with subtitles or unaccented English. This stupid choice was made all the odder by random bursts of Spanish song or calls of "ayudame!" from the many cholera victims. Do people switch from heavily accented English to Spanish as they grow sicker?

Skip the movie and read the book, in Spanish if possible.

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