Sunday, August 24, 2008

53 years, seven months and eleven days

At last I got to see Love in the time of cholera, on DVD as I missed it in the cinema. I was a bit worried, as it had crap reviews around here, but then again, British critics can be relied upon to trash any movie that includes images of women’s nipples.

My main gripe is that it’s in the wrong language. To me, the international cast speaking English with a mock hispanic accent sounds like they’re taking the mickey, even though I’m sure they mean well. The mock accent combined with the wealth of exotic detail (parrots, cock fights, the lot), gives the movie a flair of caricature that I had to consciously ignore in order to enjoy it.

The director (Mike Newell of Harry Potter fame) and producers claim they had to do it in English, or else it would have been “only an art movie”and wouldn’t have reached a wide audience. Don’t know about the US box office, but I think here it didn’t do better than it would have done in Spanish.

Other than that I thought it was quite impressive how they managed to cover the huge time span, those famous 53 years, seven months and eleven days, including the nights, and make the (external) aging of the characters credible. Also very pleased to see Colombian actress Catalina Sandino Moreno (from Maria llena de gracias) in a small role here. In fact, I think she should have been given the female lead.

But what really makes the film special is that they actually shot it in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, which is just a magical place. I understand from the interviews that this wasn’t planned originally. And of course the three songs by Shakira. They should have called it Best Of Colombia, really.

A nice touch of sarcasm is the use of the old French song “Le fiacre” in the opening scenes. The link with the subject matter of the film will have escaped most viewers’ attention, but the song involves a couple making suspicious noises behind closed curtains in a horse-drawn carriage going at full speed. When the carriage runs over and kills a man who tried to cross the road, the woman looks out of the window, then addresses her companion: “Good news, Leon, that was my husband.” (lyrics and further details about the song) Well, I did warn you that it was a sarcastic touch. Especially as Fermina’s husband dies as soon as the song fades out. And isn’t it ironic they inflicted that (in French!) on an audience that they wouldn’t trouble with dialogue in Spanish?

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