Monday, April 13, 2009

Elegy (Isabel Coixet, 2008)


Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz, Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard and Dennis Hopper portray several basic facets of Philip Roth's neurosis. Isabel Coixet oppresses you with good taste in the sincere hope that you'll overlook the white middle-aged male over-privileged egomaniac's festival of self-pity which she is facilitating. It isn't subtle, or incisive, or in any sense productive, but while it's on, it's sufficiently engaging. This is in part due to the shock of experiencing marketable faces in unapologetically adult-oriented fare, as well as partly to the sensitivity and questions with which said faces imbue the rather harried material.

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At 3:59 PM , Blogger Paul Martin said...

As I mentioned in my review, I felt the director was trying too hard to be profound, and it all felt too forced. Cruz in particular is used more as a star than an actress and while on paper the talent is there, only Hopper's character held any interest for me. He was used in an understated way and I would have liked to have seen more of his character.

At 12:58 AM , Blogger Y Kant Goran Rite said...

There's one particular scene where the trying-too-hard gets really embarrassing: when Ben Kingsley shows up for a squash match and... THERE IS NO ONE THERE TO PLAY HIM!!!
What a succinct portrait of contemporary ennui that was.

Cruz is indeed used very much as an immaculate incarnation of impossible sensuality and glamour, though I think she's allowed to do enough acting in between. I'd read some raves about her performance in advance, and I expected her to blow me away the way she did in her two most recent showcases. So I was disappointed to find her merely solid-to-adequate.

It's funny that you single out Hopper's character as the interesting one - to me that was the stockiest of the film's stock roles.

At 6:21 AM , Blogger Paul Martin said...

Goran, I saw the film about three weeks ago, and I've brain dumped already. I found it so forgettable, so I can't recall the details.

I thought that Kingsley is the more senior actor, the more accomplished and the one who is virtually in every frame and then Cruz gets top billing highlighted her being cast as a star rather than an actress. Not that that put me off her performance, but not so subtly confirmed what I already perceived.

I can't think of a single performance by Cruz that has blown me away. I find it tiresome that she always plays pretty much the same role. "Oh, we need a beautiful and fiery Latino"... "Hey, what about Penelope Cruz" "Perfecto!" The constant references to her beauty became tedious pretty much straight away. It's like we're being instructed to understand that this is an extremely beautiful woman. It's insulting to an audience's intelligence. Hey, she looks OK, but she's not that beautiful. And even if she was, we'd see it; we don't need to be told so blatantly over and over again. Yes, it's all coming back to me and it really shitted me big time. That's why I try to forget a film like this; the more I think about it, the more I hate it. I didn't think it was a bad film, it just wasn't a good film.

I can see what you're saying about Hopper. For me, he played so against type that it was unexpected. It's like when Jim Carrey plays a serious dramatic role. You're waiting for the trademark tics, so when they play it straight, it's quite refreshing.


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