Published Nov 15, 2007If youve ever felt threatened by the "magic in "magic realism then your cinematic prayers just got answered. The immensely gratifying novel of unfailing love, sexual substitution and chaotic emotion has been boiled down just for you into the thin soup of middlebrow boredom that you somehow would prefer.
Javier Bardem stars as Florentino Ariza, the telegraph operator who falls hard for young, inexperienced Fermina Daza (Giovanna Mezzogiorno). When she turns him down to marry for security, he carries the torch for her through the next 51 years while engaging a variety of sexual partners who never take the place of his one and only. This, of course, could possibly lead to emotionalism, eroticism and uncertain feelings on the part of the audience, which is exactly what happened when nasty old Gabriel Garcìa Márquez wrote the damned thing in the first place.
Thus it has been entrusted to Mike Newell (the Four Weddings and a Funeral guy? Really?) to completely ignore the more vivid and disturbing elements of the novel in favour of Merchant-Ivory masonry and sub-Skinemax sex scenes. Despite a vast swath of nudity, the movie isnt at all erotic, but the bigger issue is that it isnt resonant on any level. All of the back-story has been gutted, leaving a bunch of people doing things devoid of any context that might have provided them with meaning. Whats left is just a dude screwing and pining while his ladylove much less assertive than in the novel stands around looking stunned.
If this kind of tasteful emptiness is what you look for in a movie, then by all means rush along. Just make sure you dont move into my neighbourhood, kay? (Alliance)