Elegy


One night, a long time ago, I began watching My Life Without Me, a Canadian film by director Isabel Coixet. I didn’t know anything about it at the time; I had turned on the telly and was struck straight away by the opening image of a young woman standing in pouring rain, talking about her life with the feeling of being lost. I learnt that the young woman was a cleaner, living a simple life with her husband in a caravan. She finds out she is dying and decides to write a list of all that she wants to do before she dies.I couldn’t finish the rest of the film, because I knew that I would just lose it by the end. The first act had moved me greatly, and we were only half an hour in. I just wasn’t in the mood to watch a film which I knew would have such a moving effect on me. You know how sometimes you’re in the mood to watch a comedy, or a horror, or anything else and then sometimes your not? It was one of those moments.

Hence I was a little apprehensive about watching Coixet’s sixth feature, Elegy, a film which is as visually assured and accomplished as My Life Without Me (Yes, I did end up getting it out and watching it, and Yes…it is amazing and Yes! I did cry! Alex says ‘Awww!’ about this.)
The picture involves David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) a literature professor in his early sixties who, as a way of capturing his lost youth, moves through random affairs with his adoring students.

What them eyes, Benny boy!

I am in a state of emancipated manhood.
David meets Consuela (Penelope Cruz), a stunningly beautiful and intelligent student, who starts off as another of David’s ‘conquests’ yet ends up, much to his chagrin, as an object of his obsession. His voiceover tells us this much, as do the revealing conversations between David and his best friend George (wonderfully played by Dennis Hopper). He falls in love with her although he doesn’t realise it at first, but his inability to commit and his fear of rejection (or perhaps needing someone) drives her away, before he realises that she loves him too.

The Greatest Surprise in a mans life is old age.
To give away the films message is to give away its ending, I can only say that I was reminded that falling in love, and admitting that you love someone, doesn’t get any easier as you get older. We know David by the end of this film – sometimes uncomfortably so – because of his beautifully written and revealing voice over. In some scenes I found myself nodding my head in agreement to what he just said, and in others – most notably in the climatic scene with Consuelo – I knew exactly what he was thinking. Regret too, at not being better prepared for old age, was also understood.

Elegy effortlessly combined humour and drama, and many scenes throughout this film had me doing that little colicky thing with my tongue. You know how when something’s beautiful, and you notice it straight away, you sought of click your tongue and lean back and say “oh man” to yourself. One scene in particular (it involves Consuelo and a camera, you’ll know it when you see it) is so poignant and beautiful I was almost moved to tears (not almost…I did cry. A lot)

"And then what did Almodóvar do? Really? The dirty dog!"

The films I like most are the ones that are real, with characters and situations that remind you of real life. It’s remarkable that considering all it takes to make a film, such as writing a screenplay, filming it, editing etc., a picture can come along that is realistic as this. Watching these characters go through their transition was like watching your own friends fall in love, you care about them that much.

This is a love story in its purest form; it reminds you of how much courage it takes to fall in love, because you’re giving up on everything.
Dare I say it, this has become one of my favourite films.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: