20 November 2007
Persistence of yearning
I am on record as being fond of Gabriel García Márquez' Love in the Time of Cholera, which means I might want to avoid the motion picture thereof:
Most readers of the novel will notice the marked differences in tone between the film and book. Gone are the subtle undercurrents of biting wit, and in their place is a campy humor that only the cigar and scenery-chomping [John] Leguizamo [as Lorenzo Daza, Fermina's father] appears to recognize. The rest of the actors portray their characters in a wholly serious manner, which in all fairness is probably what the screenplay tells them to do. In the case of Dr Urbino, his character is entirely misdrawn. Instead of the restrained and dignified bore of a doctor found in the book, Benjamin Bratt appears as a smooth, charming man whose confidence lies not only in his medical profession but also in the bedroom. On his wedding night, Urbino tells an apprehensive Fermina that he will give her, "a lesson in love." The line comes straight from the book, but it just sounds so fucking sleazy in the campy context of the film, though the added dose of humor does manage to keep the audience awake. This humor is contrasted with a cringeworthy tagline that asks, "How long would you wait for love?" The disharmonious blend of serious, campy, and melodramatic angst creates an unsettling mood resembling that of Univisionís long-running variety show, "Sábado Gigante."
I have just had an unsettling vision of Don Francisco as Dr Urbino.
And of course, that's the point. Dr Urbino is supposed to be square to the point of tesseractuality; were he a real person with genuine affection for his bride, Florentino would be left with no reason to continue to obsess over her no good reason, anyway.
"The heart's memory," said García Márquez, "eliminates the bad and magnifies the good." I'd worry about a film that did the exact opposite.Posted at 11:29 AM to Almost Yogurt