Cape Town professor David Lurie blatantly refuses to defend himself for an affair with a colored student whom he gave a passing grade for an exam she didn't even attend. Dismissed, he moves to his daughter Lucy's farm, which she runs under most disadvantaged terms, favoring the black locals. Yet rowdies, unprovoked, violently rob and abuse them both. Lucy refuses to fight back, unlike David, who is surprised by his own altruistic potential. Written by
After having read J.M. Coetzee's complex, disturbing, shocking and controversial novel, one could not directly see how this story could be transformed into an appealing screenplay and still less into a convincing movie. It's heavily charged with all kind of sexual contacts, unforced and forced ones (by someone who is in a dominating position) and even with pure rape. It deals also with the eventual outcome of those contacts, like pregnancy and parental love. Moreover, the story unfolds against the violent background of open racism in a country known for its apartheid.
Steve Jacobs did a formidable job in turning the harsh and sometimes bitter and terrible realities into a moving, emotional and ultimately sublime movie, which matches the book. The director was impressively helped by his cast and in the first place by John Malkovich, whose (physical! and mental) interpretation of the very uninviting character of a sexually driven university professor is certainly one of his most memorable. He was superbly seconded by Jessica Haines as his fiercely independent daughter as well as by the rest of the cast.
A must see for all movie lovers and for all admirers J. M. Coetzee's work.
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