Critics Consensus

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



Reviews Counted: 120

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User Ratings: 72,706


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Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.2/5

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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.

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Penelope Cruz
as Consuela Castillo
Ben Kingsley
as David Kepesh
Peter Sarsgaard
as Kenneth Kepesh
Dennis Hopper
as George O'Hearn
Deborah Harry
as Amy O'Hearn
Antonio Cupo
as Younger Man
Michelle Harrison
as 2nd Student
Chelah Horsdal
as Susan Reese
Emily Holmes
as 1st Student
Marci T. House
as Administration Nurse
Alessandro Juliani
as Actor #3 in Play
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight
as Actor #2 in Play
Andre Lamal
as Talk Show Host
Kris Pope
as Consuela's Brother
Julian Richings
as Actor in Play #1
Tania Saulnier
as George's Girlfriend
Laura Mennell
as Cute Girl
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News & Interviews for Elegy

Critic Reviews for Elegy

All Critics (120) | Top Critics (37)

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.

Apr 10, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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

Nov 10, 2008 | Full Review…

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.

Oct 18, 2008

Penelope Cruz is outstanding in an otherwise lame male fantasy.

Oct 18, 2008

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

Sep 4, 2008 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

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

Aug 29, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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!

Saskia D.
Saskia D.

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.

Jake ....
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.

Bruce Bruce
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.

Jani H
Jani H

Super Reviewer

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