Like every other García Márquez novel-turned-movie, Love in the Time of Cholera is another letdown
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Cast: John Leguizamo, Javier Bardem, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Héctor Elizondo, Laura Harring, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Ana Claudia Talancón, Liev Schreiber, Benjamin Bratt
Script: Ronald Harwood
Director: Mike Newell
Rated: R, for sexual content, nudity and adult language
I was waiting for magic when I took a seat in the theater to see Love in the Time of Cholera. As a Colombian filmmaker and a devoted reader of Gabriel García Márquez, I was dying to see how the book’s beautiful words would translate on the big screen.
But when the time came to convert the epic romantic novel into a movie, British director Mike Newell didn’t stray too far from the story, but he didn’t capture the idiosyncrasies, humor and feeling of the text either.
For those who haven’t read the book, García Márquez’s work takes place in the 19th and 20th centuries and centers around Florentino Ariza (Bardem), who falls in love with Fermina Daza (Mezzogiorno), professes his love for her, and does it again 50 years, nine months and four days later.
The incredible thing about the novel is that the author tells the story without being cheesy, making us believe that love really can last a lifetime. But sadly, in the film version, we’re hurriedly told about all the events leading to Florentino and Fermina’s climactic meeting.
What scriptwriter Harwood (and the studio) doesn’t understand is that without dedicating sufficient time to each scene and to the development of Bratt’s character, Juvenal Urbino, an important player in Fermina’s life, the movie’s ending makes less of an impact and actually seems a little run-of-the-mill.
Still, the studio’s biggest crime was making the characters speak English. I can’t even begin to explain how ridiculous, absurd and inconceivable it is to watch a cast made up almost entirely of Latinos speaking English with a Colombian accent. In fact, it’s embarrassing at times, for example when John Leguizamo’s New York accent slips out.
They at least made one good decision, though. The film was shot in Cartagena de Indios, which, in addition to actually being in Colombia, looks gorgeous projected on the big screen.
Although they had minor roles, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Angie Cepeda hit the screen and remind us who should really be performing the role of Fermina. As for Bardem, he doesn’t do a bad job, but he could have done much better had the film been in Spanish. It’s also worth mentioning that Shakira made a nice contribution to the soundtrack.