Romantic drama based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. When teenagers Florentino Ariza (Unax Ugalde) and Fermina Daza (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) fall in love, their romance is cut short by a disapproving father who takes his family away. When Florentino (now played by Javier Bardem) finds out years later that Fermina has married a successful doctor, he is devastated and spends the next 50 years trying to build a successful life and reputation in the hope that one day he and Fermina can renew their relationship.
There's no reason an Englishman shouldn't take on a landmark in Latin American literature. Four Weddings and a Funeral, after all, proves Mike Newell has a feel for romance. Adapted by The Pianist's Ronald Harwood, Love in the Time of Cholera is an epic vision of true love. For all the talent involved, however, this lush realisation of the Gabriel García Márquez novel never takes flight. Newell begins with a death before backtracking 50 year to the late-1800s, with Florentino (Unax Ugalde), a poetry-writing telegraph operator living in an unnamed city (the movie was filmed in Cartagena, Columbia) who spots the graceful Fermina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) while making his rounds, and that's it--he's in love. While Florentino's mother (Central Station's Fernanda Montenegro) encourages the courtship, Fermina's father (John Leguizamo in over-the-top mode) forbids it. Years pass, and the well-born Dr. Urbino (Benjamin Bratt) treats Fermina for a case of cholera. Then, Urbino proposes. Fermina accepts. A distraught Florentino (now played by Javier Bardem) decides to wait. With the help of his uncle (a sprightly Hector Elizondo), he amasses wealth of his own. All the while, he drifts from woman to woman. After five decades of waiting, he gets a second chance to win Fermina's heart, and it's easier said than done. Florentino's journey is absorbing, but Newell's film lacks the passion and complexity of Marquez's prose. The actors give it their all, but Love in the Time of Cholera is more of a pleasant diversion than a life-changing experience. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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