Love in the Time of Cholera

Movies
2 out of 5 stars
Love in the Time of Cholera

Truth is, there’s a big difference between J.K. Rowling and Gabriel García Márquez, but who better to attempt an impossible literary adaptation than the director of the fourth Harry Potter film? Mike Newell’s compression of the beloved novel (from a screenplay by The Pianist’s Ronald Harwood) employs the same crowd-pleasing reflexes as his Four Weddings and a Funeral. What on the page is a mysterious, gorgeously textured story of romance deferred becomes a literal-minded pageant of earnest declarations and bad makeup. If you’ve ever longed to see Maria Full of Grace’s Catalina Sandino Moreno coiffed as a senior citizen, look no further.

A telegraph operator with limited means, Florentino Ariza (mostly played by Bardem) is rebuffed as a teenager by Fermina Daza (Mezzogiorno), who marries a well-to-do doctor (Bratt) instead. Florentino pledges to wait a lifetime for her but staves off his desire by shtupping every woman he meets; it’s an absurd, symbolic gesture that appears to have befuddled even Bardem. (In a smaller part, John Leguizamo seems further out of his element, chewing every syllable and resisting the urge to twirl his mustache as Fermina’s status-concerned father.) In the book’s central metaphor, love manifests as illness; in Newell’s version, the chief epidemic is stodginess.

By: Ben Kenigsberg

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Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday November 16 2007
Duration: 138 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Mike Newell
Screenwriter: Ronald Harwood
Cast: Javier Bardem
Giovanna Mezzogiorno
Benjamin Bratt
John Leguizamo
Catalina Sandino Moreno