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Movie Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

Alternate Title: Magnificent Obsession

Story: Something essential was lost in translation when the superb novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was brought to the screen, with all good intentions, by director Mike Newell and talented screen writer Ron Harwood.

The magic and involved character development of the novel perhaps got lost in efforts to bring all 350 pages of the book to the big screen. The good news is that it is a beautiful picture to watch (cinematographer Affonso Beato). You can enjoy it if you allow it to wash over you and get lost in the intricate detail of the time period (1879-1930). The bad news is that you simply do not care about anyone. Remember when Emperor Joseph II said Mozart's music had 'too many notes'? Well this film is so crammed with vignettes that if you did not read the novel I imagine you would be lost in space.

Fiorentino Ariza has been obsessively in love with Fermina for over 50 years. In today's world he would probably be locked up as a stalker. We watch as the young Fiorentino woos and wins Fermina's love only to be rejected and replaced by her marriage to a successful doctor. Fast forward through the years as we watch Fiorentino's conquests of over 600 empty shtups that attempt to replace the one true love of his life. The leap to the big screen left out the poetry, passion, sweeping landscape and magic of the novel.

The novel soars and the movie hobbles. That said, if you enjoyed the book, want to be transported to another place in time and can tolerate a very flawed film you will find some pleasantries to be had.

Acting: It pains me to say anything negative about one of my favorites, Javier Bardem but here it is. He tackled the role with his usual largeness and presence on the screen and he is always fascinating to watch but even a mega-actor like Bardem could not pull this role off. One glaring error was the many shots of his naked buff, toned body (no complaints here) just did not match the hunched over retiring man his character had become. Giovanna Mezzogiorno was adequate as the object of affection but the prosthetic aging makeup was very distracting. Benjamin Bratt as the doctor was flat - but he is good to look at. John Leguizamo was awful as Fermina's father. He was still in character from his role in Moulin Rouge. Brilliant actress Fernanda Montenegro was wonderful as Fiorentino's mother.The supporting cast were fine including Liev Schreiber, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Unax Ugalde.

Predilection: Big fan of Bardem and I loved the novel.

Critters: A parrot, chickens, a cat, dogs and mules.

Sex Spectrum: They did not depict all 600 sexual encounters but there were several scenes when we see a buff, toned Bardem and lots of boobies.

Soundtrack: A lovely score by Antonion Pinto

Opening Titles: If any of you recall the older printing of the novel there was a lovely illustration of a parrot in the rain forest. That graphic came to life at the beginning of the film.

Visual Art: Beautiful displays of interiors, paintings, sculptures and costumes. The film was a treat for the eyes.

Theater Audience: Not very crowded and there were a number of people who were laughing out loud a lot.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Drift Factor: I drifted a bit and it could have been edited by at least 2o minutes.

Predictability Level: If you read the book there were no surprises.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Your choice. If you want to rent some of my favorite Javier Bardem films, go for: The Sea Inside, Lunes al sol, Los, The Dancer Upstairs, Before Night Falls. Huevos de oro ,Jamón, jamón

Length: A little over two hours.