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Elegy (2008)

tomatometer

75

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 115
Fresh: 86 | Rotten: 29

An intelligent, adult, and provocative Philip Roth adaptation that features classy performances, Elegy is never quite the sum of its parts.

76

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 8

An intelligent, adult, and provocative Philip Roth adaptation that features classy performances, Elegy is never quite the sum of its parts.

audience

61

liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 72,378

My Rating

Movie Info

Adapted from author Philip Roth's novel The Dying Animal, director Isabel Coixet's elegant tale of obsession explores the relationship between a highly respected professor (Ben Kingsley) and an impossibly gorgeous grad student (Penélope Cruz). As their relationship deepens, the professor finds his ego challenged by the girl's enchanting beauty. Dennis Hopper and Patricia Clarkson co-star. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

R,

Drama

Nicholas Meyer

Mar 17, 2009

$3.5M

MGM - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (119) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (86) | Rotten (29) | DVD (2)

With his fierce, impeccable craft Kingsley shows us around David's tortured, preening, desperate psyche.

November 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Film.com
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sparse, low-budget drama, helmed by Spaniard Isabel Coixet, intelligently translates Roth's meditation on lust and mortality without soft-pedaling its narrator's brutally honest, unabashedly sexist views.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Penelope Cruz is outstanding in an otherwise lame male fantasy.

October 18, 2008 | Comments (3)
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Elegy is a rare treat: a serious film that, thanks to Kingsley and the rest, doesn't seem to take itself too seriously.

September 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A remarkable example of the actor at his best -- conveying wounded hurt or burning hunger with a glance.

August 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Elegy gives Ben Kingsley one of the best roles of his career.

August 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A proven favorite, the Horny Old Devil Professor - Ben Kingsley in Isabel Coixet's intelligent but weepy drama.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Your final affection for this literary treat of sorts is how well you accept the finale, which is touching, and intellectually potent, yet possibly one depressant too many.

July 29, 2011 Full Review Source: GreenCine
GreenCine

There are moments when the story sags, as it postures and revels in its own eloquence, but with strong performances and a moving final act, this is still a fine, thought-provoking film.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune
Times-Picayune

No se ubica entre lo mejor de la directora Isabel Coixet, pero es de todos modos una interesante y sensible reflexión sobre la soledad, el amor, el sexo y la madurez. Gran trabajo de Ben Kingsley.

April 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

A film which stays and stays.

April 10, 2009 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

An intelligent tale of aging, beauty, love and loss.

April 10, 2009 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

Coixet has blunted the impact of the novel's ending just as she has softened Roth's misanthropic depiction of Kepesh and, as a result, she's taken flak for being over-polite. I didn't care.

April 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

Ben Kingsley is extraordinary, but Penelope Cruz is just astounding as Consuela. It is really a beautiful film.

April 3, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Beauty, obsession and longing are the central themes of this hypnotic but ultimately flawed drama in which Ben Kingsley's ageing college professor falls in lust with Penelope Cruz' stunning and vulnerable student.

April 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Penelope's gullible college coed swoons when the lecherous lecturer played by Ben Kingsley confesses that he's fallen in love with her breasts. You've come a long way backwards, baby. Penelope Cruz Boob Fetish Blues.

March 14, 2009 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze | Comment (1)
NewsBlaze

runs out of ideas, and efforts to jog the proceedings can't get it back on track

February 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Its tone and style, unfortunately, have little to do with the novella it adapts.

October 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

A seemingly forced ending, keep Elegy from being more than a character vehicle for one of our greatest actors and an opportunity for some creative dialogue on the pitfalls of romance.

October 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Finally, a film for grown ups.

October 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Hollywood.com
Hollywood.com

I could never warm up to any of the characters.

September 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This is Kingsley's show from start to finish, as he wraps himself in Kepesh's mantle of singularity.

September 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

... another Hollywood-delivered message declaring the ultimate rightness of romantic love between a 65-year-old man and a woman who is decades younger.

September 5, 2008 Full Review Source: culturevulture.net
culturevulture.net

Audience Reviews for Elegy

I liked it despite it's relatively low rating. It portrays the raw and sharp edges of lust and love. Kingsley is charming and Penelope is as beautiful as ever!

November 18, 2010
Saxia

Super Reviewer

I had initially rated Elegy much higher than this, but have changed that now with the review. I watched the film a couple weeks ago - and enjoyed it - but the thing is that absolutely nothing stuck around; there is absolutely nothing particularly remarkable about the film. Penelope Cruz is charming, feisty, and vivacious, but what else is new? The only other thing I remember at all, is that Ben Kingsley's character is terrible. I mean, he is convincing enough, but just completely dislikable. I'm not really that fond of Philip Roth's work in general. He's a bit of an old perv and that really shines through in his male characters - especially those professors who sleep with all their students, while cheating on their mistress. It's all overtly sexual, but not in a shocking way and not in an erotic way either. It's just kinky. The only problem with Miss. Cruz according to Mr. Kingsley is that she doesn't just love him for his stick. God forbid that she actually likes him as a person! And those are the three things to note about Elegy. So, I guess the film is watchable, but it is extremely flawed. Really there are more flaws than anything to pick apart to praise. There just isn't anything left.
October 29, 2010
neverteaseaweasel
Jake ....

Super Reviewer

This movie suxs, during first 30 min was going to give it 1 star, but as it continued and it kept hitting closer to home. Nothing short of 4 stars.
August 24, 2010
bbcfloridabound
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

"We see the beautiful shell. We're blocked by the beauty barrier. Yeah, we're so dazzled by the outside that we never make it inside."

Isabel Coixet directed 'My Life Without Me' back in 2003. I enjoyed the film very much and spent a lot of time getting a DVD copy for myself. I remembered Coixet's name and waited to see if she could make a film as good as 'My Life Without Me'. 'Elegy' has its good moments, coming close but no cigar. What?

Ben Kingsley plays a cultural critic, David Kepesh, that has his own classes at the University. He understands superficial beauty and when getting his eyes on Penelope Cruz's character, his life will change. A woman that is worth the "Perfect 10" mention, is beautiful inside and outside. But can Kepesh understand the beauty in front of him or is she just a "trophy"?

To be honest, I had difficulties to keep my eyes wide awake at the beginning. There's a lot of dialogue, which is by no means a bad thing, but they just don't get anywhere with it? I don't know if it's highly intellectual to keep on asking "How many have you been with?", "How'd you do it?" etc. And another thing that bothered me a bit was that the two characters had like zero passion between them. How are you supposed to believe that this love they have would be any more special than others?

What I liked about 'Elegy' was the two lead actors work. Ben Kingsley did a great job as the emotionally handicapped older man. The further the movie goes, the further is his character developing. Penelope Cruz is truly one of the most beautiful women on the face of the Earth. I've enjoyed seeing her perform on the screen and I like her versatility.

'Elegy' was in the end somewhat of a disappointment. I enjoy serious drama but it doesn't have to be boring. The chemistry between the leads is in no way passionate, so it was hard to "get in to the mood". The actors on the other hand, do a very good job. Patricia Clarkson as Kingsley's fuckbuddy is also very good, in fact maybe the strongest performer in the whole movie.

If you're still hesitating about watching 'Elegy', here is a strong reason why you should watch it: Penelope Cruz's breasts. Nuff said. Why you shouldn't see it? If you dislike dialogue based drama and find it highly impossible to get through the first 30 minutes without snoozing to Lalaland, don't bother.
July 28, 2010
TheMachinist

Super Reviewer

    1. George: Beautiful women are invisible.
    2. David Kepesh: Invisible? What the hell does that mean? They jump out at you. A beautiful woman stands out... stands apart. You can't miss her.
    3. George: But we never actually see the person. We see the beautiful shell. We're blocked by the beauty barrier. Yes. We're so dazzled by the outside, we never make it inside.
    – Submitted by Andreea T (21 months ago)
    1. David Kepesh: Why all this talk about Kafka, Goya and her Cuban family? Don't get me wrong, it's great that her family's Cuban and she enjoys my class. But I go on yakking away mainly because I want to fuck her.
    – Submitted by Andreea T (21 months ago)
    1. David Kepesh: Old age sneaks up on you, and the next thing you know you're asking yourself, I'm asking myself, Why can't an old man act his real age? How is it possible for me to still be involved in the carnal aspects of the human comedy? Because, in my head, nothing has changed.
    – Submitted by Andreea T (21 months ago)
    1. David Kepesh: I think it was Bette Davis who said: 'Old age is not for sissies'. But it was Tolstoy who said that 'the biggest surprise in a man's life is old age'.
    – Submitted by Andreea T (21 months ago)
    1. David Kepesh: Times passes when you're not looking.
    – Submitted by Hamish A (2 years ago)
    1. David Kepesh: When you make love to a woman you get revenge for all the things that defeated you in life.
    – Submitted by Hamish A (2 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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Foreign Titles

  • Elegy oder die Kunst zu lieben (DE)
  • Elegy (2008) (CA)
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