2008 // USA // Isabel Coixet // August 19, 2008 // Theatrical Print
C - For approximately its first half, Elegy at least succeeds in being an engaging portrait of a relationship, banal in its details but oddly seductive in its execution. Forget that Ben Kingsley often seems to be acting in his own movie, or that his chemistry with Penélope Cruz is middling at best. It's hard not to thrill as the veteran works his witchcraft when he actually seems to be enjoying himself. With a creased Dennis Hopper lurking around to provide masculine wisdom, Elegy seems to arrive at a comfortable place, where skillful performers luxuriate in giving us a simple human story done well. The problem arrives when the admittedly juicy melodrama of an asshole libertine sabotaging his own happiness becomes insufficient grist for novelist Philip Roth and screenwriter Nicholas Meyer. At the point when the film started layering on the (sigh) terminal illnesses, I started to check my watch. Coixet's unconventional editing and genuinely inspired bits of sound design don't elevate Elegy above such movie-of-the-week turns, or alleviate the tedium of its lingering conclusion. The literate May-December romance was more heartfelt last year, when it was called Starting Out in the Evening.