Sunday, June 22, 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera

We saw the movie, Love in the Time of Cholera, last night on DVD. I had read the book and was curious to see the movie. The movie was just as tedious as the book, unfortunately.

It's basically about a man and a woman, Florentino and Fermina, who fall in love when they are teenagers through letters (they only meet a couple of times). Fermina's father doesn't like Florentino because he's not upper class, and Fermina eventually loses interest in him. Florentino never loses interest in Fermina, for over fifty years. Fermina marries pompous Dr. Urbino instead, and when he dies, years later, Florentino comes to her after the wake. They are now both in their 70's. He tells her that he's never forgotten her, wants to be with her even now, etc. etc. I won't spoil the ending.

While the book started out well, and I was impressed with the quality of the writing, I lost interest in it when I began to dislike the characters. Florentino seems to be nothing more than a stalker. He also turns into a womanizer who sleeps with his fourteen-year-old ward (He was entrusted to be her guardian, but instead, he picked her up from school breaks to seduce her - yuck!). Fermina is just boring. I just didn't care what happened to them, so the book grew very tedious for me.

The book began with an intriguing story about Dr. Urbino, whose friend, Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, is found dead. It turns out that it's a suicide, and that Saint-Amour had made a pact with himself that he would kill himself when he turned 60 because he did not want to grow old. He leaves a long letter for Dr. Urbino, which explains about various scandals in his life, including the existence of a scandalous love affair.

I was intrigued by the letter and the story behind Saint-Amour. I figured that the author would come back to this story and connect it with the rest of the book. But it never happened, and I still don't understand the point of starting the story this way. We never hear about Saint-Amour again.

The movie had some serious problems. One big problem was how it dealt with age progression. Giovanna Mezzogiorno, the actress who played Fermina, could not play an old woman. They slapped on some makeup, and she still looked like she was 25. Javier Bardem, who played Florentino, was not much better. They tried to shuffle around, like they thought old people would do, and it just didn't work. Mezzogiorno was not very convincing as a 17-year-old either.

Another annoying part of the movie was the fact that they all spoke with Spanish accents, since the movie took place in Colombia. (And actually, Mezzogiorno had an Italian accent). I hate movies that do this. Either do the movie in Spanish with subtitles, or have the people speak English fluently and natively. They would've spoken Spanish fluently and natively, without a foreign accent. I suppose you could argue that they did the accents to emphasize that the movie took place in a foreign country. But that's stupid. There was no question that the movie happened in Colombia, because it was such an important component of the story. And for Mezzogiorno, she needs to either speak with a Spanish accent, or no accent at all.

And while I won't spoil the ending, I will say that I thought it was dumb. Before we got to the ending, JK2 asked me if it was a happy ending or a sad ending. I said that that depends on whether you like the characters. :)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the author of the book, has gotten rave reviews from everyone, especially in Latin America. I understand that he's a hero in Colombia, but I'm not convinced about him yet. I want to read 100 Years of Solitude before I make my judgment.


A Fuss said...

I read 100 years in college. While it was moderately amusing for the style of writing -- overall I never really liked it. Good luck though!

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