Thursday, October 30, 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera

SYNOPSIS (taken from Urban Cinefile) :When young Colombian poet and telegraph clerk Florentino Ariza (Unax Ugalde) first sets eyes on the lovely Fermina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) he falls desperately in love with her, vowing to be faithful and in love till he dies. Fermina's widowed mule trader father (John Leguizamo) is furious; he wants a man of social standing and wealth for his daughter, so takes her far away from Cartagena. On their return to the city, Fermina meets Dr Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt) who has earned a great reputation as the doctor who brought good medicine to the city, fighting the curse of cholera. They soon marry and spend a few years in Paris on an extended honeymoon. The mature Florentino (Javier Bardem), who has inherited a small shipping company, continues to nurture his love for Fermina, although his vow of fidelity has been broken ... several hundred times. Even in his old age, Florentino retains his love for Fermina, in the hope that perhaps one day ....

After reading the last page of the book I immediately dropped my lunch plans and headed straight to the nearest shop that stocks the DVD of Mike Newell’s film adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.

I was so excited to watch the film! I made sure dinner was finished by 8pm and the kids are asleep by 8.30pm.

It still baffles me why filmmakers would choose to make a movie in English spoken with a thick non-English accent. Any film done in this manner is pretty hard to take seriously. And the actors just sounded ridiculous. Why can’t they just do it in straight English? Or better yet, why not just use Spanish which was the book’s original language?

Giovanna Mezzogiorno certainly looked beautiful all throughout the film but her portrayal of Fermina Daza somewhat fell short of what the author intended. I found it really challenging to find something in her that would make Florentino Ariza linger for over half a century. I think it was pertinent that the audience fall in love with her to make the film more plausible.

There was also a lot of “verbalisation” of emotions. I did not want the actors to “say” what their character is going through or what their character is feeling! I want to see it in their performance!

Mike Newell (director) and his scriptwriter Ronald Harwood opted for a literal interpretation of the book rather than a combination of fantasy and realism which is what characterises Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s works. As a consequence the film looks clumsy and incomplete.

In the end I couldn’t help but wonder how a director with a better understanding of the author’s language and culture – Pedro Almodóvar perhaps or even our very own Carlitos Siguion-Reyna – would have handled it.

No comments: