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.
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
David tells Consuela that she looks like Goya's Maja Desnuda. Penélope Cruz (who plays Consuela) plays Pepita Tudó in Volavérunt (1999), possibly a model for the Maja Desnuda. See more »
Beautiful women are invisible.
Invisible? What the hell does that mean? Invisible? They jump out at you. A beautiful woman, she stands out. She stands apart. You can't miss her.
But we never actually see the person. We see the beautiful shell. We're blocked by the beauty barrier. Yeah, we're so dazzled by the outside that we never make it inside.
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In Manhattan, the middle-aged writer, art critic and professor and aspirant piano player and photographer David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) questions that his age does not affect his sex drive and recalls words of Bette Davis ("Old age is not for sissies") and Tostoi ("The biggest surprise in a man's life is old age"). Despite of his great culture, the intellectual David is a man that has grown old but never grown up, and he is unable to last a relationship, including with his oncologist son Kenneth Kepesh (Peter Sarsgaard). The exceptions are his old poet friend and confident George O'Hearn (Dennis Hopper) and the independent businesswoman Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson), with whom he has an affair for more than twenty years. When he meets the elegant, educated and gorgeous Cuban student Consuela Castillo (Penélope Cruz) in his literature class, he feels a great sexual attraction for her and seduces her in the end of the period. They have a love affair for one and half years, but David is always insecure being thirty and something years older than the student. When Consuela forces David to come to her graduation party and meet her family and friends, he takes a decision that affects their relationship forever.
The Spanish Isabel Coixet is certainly one of the most sensitive directors of the cinema industry. "My Life without Me" and "The Secret Life of Words" are among the most beautiful, touching and heartbreaking movies I have ever seen. "Elegy" is another wonderful movie of this awesome director that deals with another real theme, the aging of men, which could be difficult for a female director to understand and correctly disclose on the screen. However, the romance works mainly because the lead male role seems to be tailored for Sir Ben Kingsley (it could be Sean Connery a couple of years ago). I can not imagine any other actor that could personify David Kepesh as portrayed in the story. Further, Penélope Cruz deserved the Oscar for her performance, with a more realistic character than in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona". The Academy wrote right through wrong performances. She is incredibly gorgeous in the role of Consuela Castillo. The always excellent Patricia Clarkson, the irregular Dennis Hopper and the "disappeared" Peter Sarsgaard have also memorable performances in this outstanding romance. The cinematography and the music score complete this beautiful work of art. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Fatal" ("Fatal")
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