Toomuchre­al­ism, not enough magic

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA Di­rected by Mike Newell. Star­ring Javier Bar­dem, Gio­vanna Mez­zo­giorno, Ben­jamin Bratt, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Hec­tor El­i­zondo, Liev Schreiber, John Leguizamo, Laura Har­ring, Fer­nando Mon­tene­gro 15A cert, Cineworld/Screen, Dublin, 139 min WHAT do come­dies star­ring Ni­cole Kid­man and main­stream adap­ta­tions of magic re­al­ist fiction have in com­mon? Sim­ple. They are two en­deav­ours that, no mat­ter how hard you try, no mat­ter how much tal­ent you throw at them, will al­ways, al­ways end in catas­tro­phe.

To be fair, Gabriel Gar­cía Mar­quez’ su­perb Love in the Time of Cholera might be classed as soft magic re­al­ism – rel­a­tively few peo­ple turn into but­ter­flies, and par­rots al­most never re­cite po­etry. But it re­mains the sort of elu­sive, con­spic­u­ously po­etic tale that ends up look­ing faintly ridicu­lous when trans­lated into a movie.

Javier Bar­dem turns up as a South Amer­i­can tele­graph op­er­a­tor who, in the first 20 min­utes of the film, loses the love of his life (Gio­vanna Mez­zo­giorno) to a doc­tor, played by the dizzy­ingly mis­cast Ben­jamin Bratt. The pri­apic Bar­dem then com­mits him­self to a life­time of reck­less sex­ual congress while the physi­cian and his wife settle for as bour­geois an ex­is­tence as is man­age­able in early-20th-cen­tury Colom­bia. Gov­ern­ments rise and fall. De­cent char­ac­ter ac­tors chew their way through sev­eral decades’ worth of furniture. Still, de­spite his trans­gres­sions, Javier yearns for his first love.

The film is di­rected by Mike Newell and writ­ten by Ron­ald Har­wood, and the re­li­able old lags do bring a cer­tain work­man­like qual­ity to the ex­er­cise. It may be a sink­ing ship, but it’s a sink­ing ship with well-tooled fit­tings and brightly painted bulk­heads.

The film is, how­ever, also mind­lessly bor­ing and con­sis­tently ridicu­lous. Bar­dem spends most of his time wear­ing the sort of corny old-per­son makeup you would ex­pect to see on Baron Hardup in a re­gional pro­duc­tion of Cin­derella, and Mez­zo­giorno ap­pears only fleet­ingly familiar with the English lan­guage.

The film-mak­ers’ great­est er­ror is to in­clude a scene in which the towns­peo­ple spend a des­per­ately dull evening watch­ing (I think) DW Grif­fith’s In­tol­er­ance in their lo­cal cin­ema. As the cam­era pans past the yawn­ing, sigh­ing movie au­di­ence one can’t help but . . .

You can see where we’re go­ing with this.

The (very) dis­creet charm of the bour­geois: Mez­zo­girono, Bratt

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.