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
When Consuela is napping on the beach, the book beside her is Selected Essays by John Berger. See more »
At one point Ben Kingsley says to Penelope Cruz, "The beast with two backs. Where's that from?" She answers Shakespeare and he agrees that it's from Othello. The fact is that Shakespeare borrowed it from the original author, Francois Rabelais. The phrase appears in French as "la bête à deux dos" in Gargantua and Pantagruel, 1532. 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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'When you make love to a woman you get revenge for all the things that defeated you in life.'
Few American writers have been able to examine the fear and rage and desperation of aging as eloquently as Philip Roth, and as with another of his novels brought to life on the screen ('The Human Stain'), here Nicholas Meyer has beautifully adapted Roth's 'The Dying Animal' with all the visceral immediacy and poetry of the novel about the terror and compassion of May/December relationships. Isabel Coixnet has managed to guide her gifted set of actors through this story as though it were a ballet. The result is one of the more beautiful 'love stories' ever filmed.
David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley, in a performance of tremendous power and sensitivity) is an aging author, teacher and art critic, a man who has not learned the secret of lasting relationships but who retains his animal sex drive despite his passing years: he survives time's passing by a patterned assignation with Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson), an aging successful traveling business woman who drops in for sensual gratification when in town. David's closest friend is Pulitzer prize winning poet George O'Hearn (Dennis Hopper) who serves as his alter ego and as his confidant in David's problematic life.
Into David's classroom comes Consuela Castillo (the ravishingly beautiful and gifted Penélope Cruz) who gains David's focus not only for her radiant beauty but also for her intelligence. Struggling with his advanced years (David is over thirty years older than Consuela), a courtship dance begins and it is the emergence of this romance that forms the story. How Consuela alters David's behavior and his discovery of the need for connection outside of the bedroom is related as a journey through David's mind. The manner in which the transformation changes every member of the story is what makes this film so very memorable.
Kingsley is brilliant in this probing examination of the aging man's psyche, Cruz SHOULD have received her Oscar for this performance rather than the film that honored her, Clarkson continues to be one of our best actresses on the screen, Peter Sarsgaard makes a brief but important appearance, and David Hopper manages to step out of his predictable past roles and offer a character of true compassion and finesse. The film is magnificently photographed (Jean-Claude Larrieu) and the music score thankfully is almost completely devoted to the works of Erik Satie (Gnossiennes), Beethoven (Diabelli Variations), Vivaldi (cantatas with Phillipe Jaroussky) -all edited by the director Isabel Coixnet. It all works well. This is one of the finer films of 2008 and deserves a wide audience of people who love quality film-making. Grady Harp
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