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Love in the Time of Cholera: A few diamonds among the ash
on December 21, 2013
That this film adaptation of Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel of the same name has been given 20+ thumbs-down reviews (out of 120+) is hardly surprising. What I would not have anticipated was the vehemence of those reviews--some of which were pans for no other reason then they found the content morally and aescetically reprehensible and more than a few which slammed the film for the characters speaking English.
On the other side of the spectrum, the four-and-five star reviews outnumbered the pans by more than 2:1 and almost 3:1. So, what are we to make of this?
Objectively, one's review may say more about the reviewer than the merits or deficits of the film itself. If one needs the edge-of-your-seat pacing of, let's say "Zero Dark Thirty" to remain engaged with a film, they are likely to find "Love in the Time of Cholera" a cosmic snore. On the other hand, if one is content with protracted stretches of what appears to be static plotting knowing Garcia Marquez will inevitably place a brilliant insight into our hands or dialogue that can make us look at life in a completely different way ("I am not afraid of dying; I am afraid of old age".) than it is likely that person's review will be ovationary or quite positive.
It has been said that "Expectation is the mother of future resentment.". My guess is the that the more scathing reviews are the result of the expectations of certain reveiwers rather than any real liabilities of the film itself. The most banal criticism, in my opinion,is that the film fails to rise to the level of the book. How many films based on extraordinary novels do? The expectation that a 400-page novel, written by one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, can be transferred to the screen with equivalent or even approximate beauty and power is incredibly naive.
Finally, those who find the plot implausible or the characters driven by contradictory motives, apparently don't inhabit the same universe I do. I know of a very elderly, accomplished man who loved one woman his entire life and finally married her 60 years after they first met, forty years after she was married and then widowed and who could bed women 30-40 years his junior.
Perhaps Gabriel Garcia-Marquez knew of one, also.
At the end of the day, "Love in the Time of Cholera" form me was a life-affirming film with enough diamonds in the ash for me to want to give it a second and, quite likely, third viewing. And, as I suggested, one's response to it may say more about expectation than observation.