Elegy | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Drama about May-December romance somewhat incomplete

When Manhattan college professor David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) becomes enamored of a new student, the distinctively beautiful Consuela (Penelope Cruz), he waits until the grades are in before bedding her. That's the measure of Kepesh's minimal maturity in the pursuit of his frequently triumphed personal freedom. Isabel Coixet's (My Life Without Me) drama, an adaptation of Philip Roth's novella The Dying Animal, follows Kepesh's ongoing relationship with Consuela. Elegy is meant to be an examination of one's emotional and philosophical perceptions, and how they inevitably change over time. But Kepesh is not particularly sympathetic, and the slow-moving film often plays like an extended pity party for a self-absorbed man who refuses to grow up emotionally. (Your mileage may vary: Elegy can't help but underscore the long-admired cultural conceit that older, wiser men deserve gorgeous, malleable young women.) The performances are good, though the few supporting characters don't get much to work with. (Dennis Hopper has a nice little turn as Kepesh's poet friend, though his role is mostly to serve as Greek chorus.) Consuela is ferociously presented as an objet d'art for much of the film, and neither Consuela (nor Cruz) seems to chafe particularly hard against this shallow characterization. The film's last act finally delivers some emotional depth, even if the catalyst is a melodramatic cheat. Starts Fri., Aug. 29. Manor (AH)

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