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:: Elegy

Elegy is a beautiful film. Adapted to the screen from Phillip Roth’s novel The Dying Animal, Spanish director Isabel Coixet has taken a powerful and mature look at the destabilising nature of sex, desire and beauty. Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz dominate the screen to the point where only three other actors are really required.

Kingsley plays university professor and writer David Kepesh, who uncharacteristically falls in love with one of his students, the beautiful Consuela Castillo (Cruz). As he grapples with his growing affection for the much younger woman, who was at first just a sexual conquest of sorts, he is also forced to recognise his increasing age. Kepesh becomes overwhelmed by his lover’s beauty, and becomes a contradiction of jealously, rapture and an inability to commit. Consuela returns his passion, while maintaining a mysterious

While Kepesh and Consuela’s love is engrossing, the most enjoyable and moving relationship is shared between Kepesh and his close friend George (Dennis Hopper). Their love for each other is expressed through their wry humour and wit, and tragedy.

The film would have been in constant danger of from falling victim to too-heavy a subject-matter, if not for the subtle injection of this humour in what is a serious and complicated story.

Kingsley is excellent as he illustrates the pain and confusing arising in Kepesh’s previously uncomplicated life, while Cruz is perfectly cast as Consuela. Dennis Hopper, however, was the most engaging of them all; you find yourself wanting to see more of his character George every time he appears.

Elegy is a thought-provoking and moving experience, played out solely on an emotional script and quality acting. It is a purposefully simply-made film that paints a picture of complex lives.