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Elegy

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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Elegy

Penelop Cruz and Ben Kingsley in "Elegy"

Samuel Goldwyn Films
Isabel Coixet (My Life Without Me) adapted Philip Roth's The Dying Animal with Sir Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz. Among the film's themes: aging, death, family, fear of commitment, and what a poet played by Dennis Hopper calls the invisibility of beauty.

"We're not all descended from the Puritans," writer and teacher David Kapesh (Kingsley) explains to Charlie Rose in the opening scenes, and yet his shameless hedonism hasn't made him happy. Long-time lover Patricia Clarkson seems content with their arrangement, but when Kapesh falls for Consuela Castillo, a gorgeous student played by Penelope Cruz, his cynical façade begins to crack. He woos the young woman with charm, culture, and compliments, and soon begins to reconsider what his estranged son (Peter Sarsgaard) calls his "serial tomcatting."

I vastly prefer Kingsley the villainous creep (as he is currently on display in Transsiberian), to Kingsley the suave seducer of beauties thirty years his junior. Witnessing his stale Casanova routine -- Goya, contemporary plays, a little tinkling on the piano -- is painful, especially because it works.

But it's Cruz, with a shy smile beneath black bangs, who makes the film come alive. She is more generous with her skin than ever before, and eventually, her breasts even become a plot point. When she sheds a single tear while displaying them for Kapesh's benefit, his late conversion to true love becomes almost convincing.

Elegy (2008)

Penelope Cruz in Elegy

Samuel Goldwyn Films
Starring: Penelope Cruz, Ben Kingsley, Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard, Dennis Hopper
Directed by: Isabel Coixet
Produced by: Richard Wright (VII), Eric Reid (II), Terry A. McKay
Genres: Drama and Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.
Release Date: August 8th, 2008 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, nudity and language.
Distributors: Samuel Goldwyn Films
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