Tue September 16, 2008
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
"Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books,
But love from love, toward school with heavy looks." Romeo and Juliet
Being a professor for my career, I bring to Elegy a great deal of experience and sympathy. Ben Kingsley's performance as a still-sexed sexagenarian professor, David Kepesh, who dates his students only after grades have been submitted, is a gem of understated accuracy for those of us who, as is my case, have done that seldom but memorably.
More than capturing the ripe world of higher education dedicated to advancement of the mind and spirit (few professions can match that lofty goal), Elegy poetically portrays an aging Lothario facing his loss of time and independence: He falls for voluptuous student Consuela (Penelope Cruz), more than thirty years his junior, and proceeds to act like a teenager in love with all the jealousies and diffidence of inexperience.
His challenge is not so much keeping her as dealing with the mathematics of aging and making her aware of the inevitable disconnect between a young adult and a senior citizen whose days are in relatively short supply.
As an advisor and confidante, Dennis Hopper's Pulitzer-winning poet, George O'Hearn, is the rational side that knows the inevitable denouement and tries to save his friend from the grief. Hopper plays it right?quietly countering David's self-destructive impulses while savoring his friend's daring. Yet even the world-class advice of a poet, who is married but dallies after class with beautiful students, cannot stop the march of David's libido, affections, and despair over a doomed relationship.
The ending of this slow-moving but absorbing drama is too easy and sentimental. Nothing about love is ever that easy?in life or in film.
" Making the beast with two backs . . . ." Othello
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com