Love in the Time of Cholera Mike Newell

Love in the Time of Cholera Mike Newell
This lush adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel of the same name couldn’t possibly have done the book justice. In fact, even trying to translate the rich eroticism of the words into a visual language seems like an endeavour destined to fail. Mike Newell opted for a straight adaptation and the result is merely a mediocre historical romance. He could have gone the Julie Taymor route and turned the novel’s magical realism into a bombastic style choice. I imagine swirling collages of women’s breasts, white flowers and screeching parrots, with a pumping garage rock soundtrack. Thankfully, it’s not that bad. The problem with this adaptation is simply that the meandering, languid story (which takes place over 50 years in the characters’ lives) can’t be told in a couple of hours. Abbreviating the plot makes the story lose most of its magic, and the film at two hours and 18 minutes feels much too long. The cinematography is beautiful but the only truly poignant moments in the film are the times when voiceover narration provides verbatim quotes from the book. Put most simply, the story is of the lifelong love triangle between Florentino Ariza (played decently by Oscar winner Javier Bardem), his "crowned goddess” Fermina Daza (a woman to whom he pledges his everlasting love when they are youths) and the man she ultimately marries, Dr. Juvenal Urbino. Florentino intends to love Fermina forever. So, when her father (an astonishingly unconvincing John Leguizamo) breaks them up and she ultimately marries someone else, Florentino does the only thing a desperately love-struck, hot-blooded young man can: he embarks upon a lifetime of sexual escapades with hundreds of women while patiently waiting for his love’s husband to die so that he may be with her once again. The DVD includes a director’s commentary, a "making of” featurette, some deleted scenes (also with commentary) and a trailer. The story is heartbreakingly beautiful. The film, not so much. My recommendation: read the book. (Alliance)