Thursday, March 13, 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Adaptation of Marquez Masterpiece Steamy but Still Unsatisfying

Compromises are in order whenever a novel is being made into a movie, especially a 368-page saga spanning 50 years, which is the case with this literary classic by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is expected that in condensing this imaginative tale of unrequited love into a film some central characters, major themes and pivotal events might have to be conflated, distilled or eliminated entirely in service of the cinematic medium.
However, director Mike Newell had an additional challenge to confront for in interpreting the book’s magical realism, a style of prose marked by plotlines grounded in reality offset by surreal flights of fancy. Unfortunately, Newell’s relatively-mundane overhaul fails to reflect any of the original work’s fusion of the everyday with the otherworldly. The upshot is that, excised of its evocative aspects, Love in the Time of Cholera lacks charm and reads about the same as your typical romance novel with a hunky Fabio look-a-like splashed across the cover.
The story is set in the City of Cartagena, Marquez’s hometown, and revolves around a classic love triangle. This flashback flick’s practical point of departure is 1879, which is when lowly clerk Florentino (Javier Bardem) first encounters Fermina (Giovanna Mezzogiomo), a blooming beauty with a wealthy, overprotective father (John Leguizamo).
Despite the object of his affection’s initial indifference, Florentino professes his undying devotion, and proceeds to wear the poor girl down with his persistencer. Soon, the two start swapping notes and sharing stolen moments together till her mean daddy catches wind of their puppy love liaison.
He forces Fermina to end her fling with Florentino and then pressures her into marrying wealthy Dr. Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt). But not even the Urbinos moving overseas can discourage our pigheaded protagonist from impatiently awaiting, for decades on end, the return of the woman he’s convinced was really meant for him.
Regrettably, this sorry interpretation of Marquez, substituting serial coupling and uncoupling and gratuitous nudity for spirituality, merely reduces his masterpiece into little more than a titillating, superficial soap opera.

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity and brief profanity.
Running time: 138 minutes
Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Alternate and deleted scenes with optional commentary, a theatrical trailer, director’s audio commentary, plus “The Making of” documentary

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