Love In The Time of Cholera: A Review

Ever since Oprah chose “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez as the recipient of one of her book choices, I have been interested in reading the novel. Marquez’s “An Hundred Years of Solitude” is one of my all time favorite novels. I have not read the book yet, which I am confident is amazing, but the film falls far short of the excellence that I expect from this author. The problem was not the story — though I will have to admit that 600 illicit affairs and waiting over 50 years for one woman to love you seems a bit far fetched. Even still, a story about the enduring power of love would keep my attention if I cared about the characters in the first place. I know I’ve been preaching a lot about this lately, but this movie is an example of why an epic novel is difficult to translate into a screenplay.

Ten minutes into the film or less, we see the main character fall ridiculously in love with a woman to a degree that is not possible unless we have come to know the woman and why he loves her so. This man is distraught without his true love, so much so that he begins to weep. The women behind me began to laugh. I didn’t blame them. It was just too much to believe given what we knew.

The second half of the film seemed to improve a bit as we are introduced into the complexity of these two people’s lives while they are apart from each other. Viewers who are sensitive about nudity or sexual scenes probably should avoid this film, though I will have to admit that I thought the love scene between the two lovers who finally are together in their 70s was a beautiful but admittedly uncomfortable one because it is so rarely seen in a film where the lovers always must be hot and sensuous if they are naked or to have sex.

One thing I did love about the film was the beautiful scenery and the outstanding cinematography of the South American countryside. The setting is an unusual one for a feature film, so this was an enjoyable feature.

Finally, the film was just too long. It was 2 hours and 20 minutes, and I feel that it easily could have been a 2 hour film without losing anything that was critical to the development of the story. Perhaps the title should be “Love in the Time Of Poorly Directed Films”. This film was just average, so my recommendation is to read the novel and then rent this film on DVD. Too bad. Marquez is said to have been reluctant to turn over the rights of his Spanish novel to an English film, and turns out, he should have kept his rights. The film does his novel a disservice, if a translation was even possible in the first place.

This is the time of the year that I’m normally raving about most every movie that I see. Not this year. Am I getting cranky in my old age, or has Hollywood just failed to impress me so far? The best movie this year so far, hands down, is “Ratatouille”. Now when a rat is your favorite male actor all year, and an animated feature is your favorite film … well that’s the kind of year I’ve had at the movies.

Still on my list, and I hear these are grand: The Ballad of Jesse James (by one of my favorite authors Ron Hansen), Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and Dan in Real Life.


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