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Genre Drama

Elegy is a film adaptation of Philip Roth’s ‘The Dying Animal’. The movie stars Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz with support from Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard. An elegy is a poem usually associated with funeral’s. While Elegy is concerned with the latter portion of David Kepesh’s life, it doesn’t share a funeral pace or come across as flowery or symptomatic of its title. Isabel Coixet (The Secret Life of Words) paints an insightful adaptation, which relies on an excellent performance from Kingsley as Kepesh. He’s paralleled by the beautiful Cruz, who casts herself head first into the role of Kepesh’s student and young lover, Consuela. Elegy centres on the culture critic, whose refinement and class epitomise the man’s ideals. He’s a hedonist at heart, and his distinguished bachelor status has given him all the right attributes to make the right impression on young students. He’s not a pervert, but likes art to the point of obsession. After a failed marriage, Kepesh has some regrets - like his insecure son (Sarsgaard) and his trail of misgivings towards the institution of commitment. These elements seem to be his life in a habitual repetition of events, until he meets Consuela. She’s older than she looks and seems to be more mature than the stunted emotional state of Kepesh. His cultural capital may outclass her, but she has the gavel when it comes to the emotional side of life.

Kepesh’s awakening starts in the bedroom, but comes full circle when Consuela’s ways beckon him like a lighthouse. His transition is sluggish, but his infatuation and jealous obsession with Consuela is unsual even by his standards. His relationship with the Cuban beauty and his association with longtime friend George O’Hearn (Hopper) and an ex-student (Clarkson) all seem to chip away at his conscience as he turns back to the light. This movie seems like a biography at times, and its aided by fantastic performances by the lead duo. The lead role of Kepesh could’ve been played by other performers like Sir Anthony Hopkins, but Kingsley owns the character. Elegy contains several nude and erotic scenes, which are not gratutious, but may make some uncomfortable. The exploration of an older gentleman’s psyche and his relation to his immediate social circle are fascinating to witness, and the performances make the film even more beautiful to behold.

The bottom line: Classy.

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