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4 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Respected cultural critic and author David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) is a middle-aged college professor who, for years, has lived in a state of "emancipated manhood." His romantic conquests are many; his lasting commitments, few. But when a stunning young student named Consuela Castillo (Penelope Cruz) enters his life, her otherworldly beauty captivates him to the point of obsession. Soon, their erotic relationship evolves into an undying and passionate love in this gripping drama that explores the power of love to blind, reveal and transform.


There are very few men who wouldn’t eagerly sell their souls to be with Penelope Cruz (or whatever character she happens to be playing). But with Elegy, director Isabel Coixet and screenwriter Nicholas Meyer (adapting a novel by Philip Roth) pose some thorny questions: How many are willing, let alone able, to see past a woman’s beauty and embrace her true being? And when beauty fades, what then? David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) is a successful New York author, teacher, and literature maven; a semi-celebrity due to regular TV appearances, he’s self-satisfied if not exactly smug, seemingly unconcerned about his advancing age (he’s now in his sixties, but as he tells us in voice-over, "In my head, nothing’s changed") or his strained relationship with the son (Peter Sarsgaard) who still resents him for abandoning his marriage years ago, and content with his occasional and purely sexual relationship with a middle-aged businesswoman (Patricia Clarkson). All of that changes when Consuela Castillo (Cruz) enrolls in one of his classes. More than 30 years his junior, she’s not just gorgeous but mature and smart as well. And for all his worldly cool, charm, and experience, once he’s involved with Consuela, David turns into just another possessive, jealous, obsessed ("On the nights she isn’t with me, I am deformed"), and insecure man, convinced that it’s only a matter of time before their age difference pulls them apart. It’s a given that David will see to it that his self-fulfilling prophecy comes true. But will his lies and fear of commitment prove to be his ruination, or will the tragedies that ensue help him find a path to redemption? The film’s various performers (including Dennis Hopper as David’s best pal) and overall sophisticated, grownup tone, along with Cruz’s almost impossible beauty, make Elegy consistently watchable and compelling. --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Penelope Cruz, Ben Kingsley, Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard, Dennis Hopper
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,713 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael on September 10, 2009
Format: DVD
Elegy with Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz in leading roles - fine performances by Dennis Hopper and Patrica Clarkson as well.

Some reviewers disliked the film calling it trite, as the erudite but emotionally impotent David Kepesh (Kingsley) with his life long committment to hedonism (particularly womanizing) leaves some unsympathic to his plight and the movie in general.
Masterfully portraying the cold hearted and ultimately frightened Kepesh (wanting to end the best relationship of his life before his girlfriend ends it first, or so he tells himself) the film shows a man of culture, wit and fine intellectual prowess lay bare his world as friends die and the shallow nest of his life is flayed open.

Not a happy feel good movie, and certainly not a movie for folks who like formula characters who are politically correct at every turn, but this poignant, poetic film with hauntingly beautiful music has much to offer discerning tastes.

Unflinchingly it reminds us of the relentless movement of time, of life's unpredictable geography, of choices made, and of those simple moments of redemption.
I hope we'll see more work by this director.
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Format: DVD
Character-fueled without skimping on story, Coixet and Meyer make it easy for us to understand the perspectives and motives of each lead without asking the viewer to like or sympathize with them. Interactions are believable within context, and dialogue is natural and interesting. Although the film is about a refined cultural critic, it never itself feels pretentious (Ben Kingsley's appropriately upturned nose notwithstanding).

Nor is the film judgmental. Once gravity is lent to what might seem a minor life crisis, the masterful pacing leaves little room to consider the defensibility of the choices made before us. Short scenes are interspersed with longer bits of dialogue, the end result being a well-proportioned mix that is constantly fluid. The shot selection keeps the film visually interesting, even in the more cerebral scenes of extended dialogue. Every once in a while, a visual metaphor seems unnecessary and contrived--as in when wilted leaves fall from a potted plant--but such annoyances are few and far between.

Kingsley is certainly in his element here, and his classical training enables him to indulge his inner British snob without guilt. His transformation from accomplished, confident sophisticate to love-struck, helpless old man is nuanced and captivating.

Not just anyone can reduce a man like that to helplessness; this feat is performed by Penelope Cruz (who else?). It's fair to say that Cruz is often typecast as the Latin seductress, but it is a role she has perfected--even elevated--in films like Todo Sobre Mi Madre. This is her at her most sympathetic, and she manages to bring something new to a role that could have easily been phoned in.
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Format: DVD
The first 30 minutes or so of Elegy were a bit uncomfortable...the idea and sight of Ben Kingsley's 60-ish character trying to seduce (well, "woo" as he jokingly tells his professor pal played by Dennis Hopper) a playing-24-year-old Penelope Cruz will do that. But that uncomfortableness slowly lessens as you see the maturity that Cruz's character possesses...and the immaturity displayed by Kingsley's David Kepesh. As Hopper's character pointedly tells Kepesh, "You need to grow old...and grow up." It's a spot-on piece of advice.

This serious, small movie ends up being a real pleasure for fans of intelligent movie-making. This one has it all: the pedigree of a Philip Roth novel; adapted for the screen by Nicholas Meyer; superbly directed by Isabel Coixet; and a first-rate cast of Kingsley, Cruz, Hopper, Patricia Clarkson, and Peter Sarsgaard. Moreover, there's the Easter Egg-like treat of a performance by Deborah Harry, almost unrecognizable out of her erstwhile Blondie persona.

Of special note are the one-on-one scenes between Kingsley and Hopper. You can tell they had a lot of fun together. There's a deep respect for each others' talents that plays out on the screen. The DVD's featurette confirms this: Kingsley speaks of "Dennis' rhythm as an actor" (that's a great observation), while Hopper speaks glowingly of "working with Sir Ben."

Cruz continues to be a revelation. When trying to break into English-speaking roles, she made a string of stinkers. Now, with Volver,
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Format: DVD
A half hour into this film, I wasn't that impressed. I thought it was a little slow. Then suddenly, it captured me, and I was entranced. I realized that this film was a cerebral gift---one that would take me on a journey, opening doors, that many of us may face one day, during our own life reviews, particularly as WE become 'seniors.' The issues may be different, but we all share imprefections. No, this was not a shoot-'em-up, car chasing, violent film. It was a thoughtful, insightful and poignant one.

ELEGY left me with many thoughts to ponder, regarding the human psyche: Our often poor choices; how many times we sabotage our happiness; the extensive boundaries we often draw around ourselves; our frequent inability to really see others beyond the surface, and perhaps, even ourselves. How we may snap one day and realize we've lived a life of self-fulfilling, superficiality, while never fully engaging, and that it is suddenly time to pay the consequences. Yes, ELEGY stares these emotions and conflicts (and many more), straight in the eye. And if you don't have tears coming out of yours by the last scenes, as our characters face these demons, you're stronger than I.

ELEGY does justice to Philip Roth's erotic novel, THE DYING ANIMAL, which explores sexual indulgence, challenged by aging, and facing the grim-reaper. David Kepsch (Ben Kingsley) is an aging, college professor, and somewhat of a celebrity, who left his wife and son during the 'free sex' era to indulge in serial womanizing and self-absorption. Sadly, it is an era that he never wanted to give up and he begrudges growing old, or becoming that, 'Dying Animal.
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