Cultural critic David Kepesh finds his life -- which he indicates is a state of "emancipated manhood" -- thrown into tragic disarray by Consuela Castillo, a well-mannered student who awakens a sense of sexual possessiveness in her teacher.
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David Kepesh is growing old. He's a professor of literature, a student of American hedonism, and an amateur musician and photographer. When he finds a student attractive, Consuela, a 24-year-old Cuban, he sets out to seduce her. Along the way, he swims in deeper feelings, maybe he's drowning. She presses him to sort out what he wants from her, and a relationship develops. They talk of traveling. He confides in his friend, George, a poet long-married, who advises David to grow up and grow old. She invites him to meet her family. His own son, from a long-ended marriage, confronts him. Is the elegy for lost relationships, lost possibilities, beauty and time passing, or failure of nerve? Written by
This is the first time that Roth has been successfully transferred to the screen. An uncompromising movie for grownups with two exquisite central performances, and some very nice supporting turns by Clarkson, Hopper and Sarsgaard. What impressed me about this movie is that it dares to be slow, dark, almost meditative. Roth's short book does not have much plot to it, so that adapting it to the screen runs more risks than would be the case for one of his more developed novels. But the director and screenwriter make a virtue of the book's spare narrative elements. It takes its time studying faces, glances and shadows. I will be happy if I see another movie half as good this year.
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