|Love In The Time Of Cholera|
Javier Bardem, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo, Hector Elizondo, Liev Schreiber, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Fernanda Montenegro, Laura Harring
Adapting a literary work into a feature-length movie is, by nature, a dicey proposition. A well-loved novel of length and complexity, such as Colombian-born Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel García Márquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera," seems designed to defy such an audacious proposition. Yet, that best-seller the tale of a thwarted, obsessive love that spans a half-century was transformed into a lush, engaging affair for the big screen under unlikely circumstances. The film was made in Spanish-accented English by British mainstream director Mike Newell ("Four Weddings & a Funeral," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"), and features a passel of familiar actors from various points on the globe including Spain's Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, Hector Elizondo, John Leguizamo and Liev Schreiber from the U.S., Italy's Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Brazil's Fernanda Montenegro and Colombia's Catalina Sandino Moreno. Admittedly, it's a glorified soap opera, but what could have been a clumsy mish-mash is charming and amusing.
During the late 19th century in a bustling port city, poor but diligent clerk Florentino (a protean Bardem) yearns to marry the beautiful Fermina (the luminous Mezzogiorno). It's not to be, because Fermina's greedy father (Leguizamo) has arranged her marriage to well-to-do Dr. Urbino (Bratt). Thus begins a romantic triangle that persists for 50 years as Florentino, rising in status and wealth as a merchant, remains determined to win Fermina's heart.
Due to necessary plot compression, the script often skims the surface of the book. Luckily, screenwriter Ronald Harwood balances genuine emotion, ribald humor, melodrama, and a touch of magical realism; the actors embrace their work with gusto; and Newell knows when to move things along and when to pause and drink in the glories of the story and setting.