Review: 'Elegy'

Based on a Philip Roth novel, 'Elegy' traces the passionate entanglement of an aging professor with a strikingly beautiful student, played by Penélope Cruz.

Based on Philip Roth's slim novel "The Dying Animal," "Elegy," directed by Isabel Coixet and written by Nicholas Meyer, is a somewhat lugubrious but measured attempt to dramatize a situation that, in less intelligent hands, might have come across as crass. Ben Kingsley plays David Kepesh, a college professor we first see on television promoting his new book on the roots of American hedonism. No stranger to the subject, Kepesh has had his share of serial relationships. Nothing, however, prepares him for the one he embarks on with a student, Consuela Castillo, played by Penélope Cruz. Despite their age difference, theirs is a passionate relationship. The film's point is that Kepesh finds love when all he was expecting was lust. While this may seem like an apologia for randy older men, it doesn't come off that way, and Cruz gives her best performance to date. It's a curiosity, by the way, that so few Roth books have been made into movies. Anybody out there want to take a shot at "Sabbath's Theater" or "Operation Shylock"? Grade: B+ (Rated R for sexuality, nudity, and language.)

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