Based on Philip Roth’s novella The Dying Animal, Elegy recounts the passionate affair between its narrator, sixty-something literature professor David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley), and one of his much younger ex-students, the Cuban-born Consuela (Penélope Cruz). An inveterate seducer, Kepesh is entranced by the woman’s dazzling beauty, yet he’s soon consumed by fears that she’ll desert him for a man closer to her own age. Like 2003’s The Human Stain, this fails to do justice to Roth’s formidable prose. Spanish director Isabel Coixet (My Life Without Me) strains for chamber-drama classiness (polished visuals, overly familiar classical score). But for a story about a man blinded by his own lust and a couple confronted with their own mortality, its emotional kick is strangely muted. Meanwhile, Dennis Hopper makes for a highly unlikely Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.
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