I'm not partial to overtly subjective reviews, yet I can't seem to find any better way of relating my response to Isabel Coixet's latest film, Elegy, an adaptation of Philip Roth's novel "The Dying Animal," which follows the romance between a college professor and his much younger former student. First, though, a note of appropriateness: early in the film, this professor, the Roth regular David Kepesh, who previously appeared in the novels "The Breast" and "The Professor of Desire," is lecturing about how literature, specifically Tolstoy's "War and Peace," will be appreciated differently by a reader at different points in his or her life. In ten years, for example, it may seem like a new book entirely.
Perhaps in ten years, then, or more likely in thirty, I will be able to watch Elegy again and have a new perspective. Maybe I will be able to relate to Kepesh, here portrayed by Ben Kingsley, when I am in my sixties and have similarly lived and experienced as much. Yet the fact that Coixet's film is so depressing makes me almost hope that I never actually live so long to find out. I should have known, what with the filmmaker's past films, such as My Life Without Me, with their gray atmospheres and dreary dealings with illness and death. While appearing on the outside to be a sexy drama about how one lecherous old man discovers love, Elegy is on the inside really just a slow, uninteresting depiction of a selfish fool who possibly too-late realizes that he's grown old before he's actually grown up.