Produced by Lakeshore Entertainment
Directed by Isabel Coixet
Screenplay by Nicholas Meyer from a novel by Philip Roth
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films
Burn After Reading
Produced by Relativity Media and Studio Canal
Directed and written by Joel and Ethan Coen
Distributed by Focus Features
Elegy, Spanish director Isabel Coixet’s adaptation of Philip Roth’s The Dying Animal (2001), includes a scene in which 65-year-old Ben Kingsley runs his finger down 34-year-old Penélope Cruz’s breastbone as he admires her fully exposed charms on either side. “I worship them,” he murmurs reverentially. It would be ungentlemanly to question whether or not Miss Cruz sports worshipful breasts, but I found it a little ridiculous to watch codger Kingsley adore them so solemnly, especially with Miss Cruz gazing down on his bald pate as if she were Aphrodite accepting her divine due from yet another besotted earthling.
Elegy fails because Coixet and screenwriter Nicholas Meyer lack any sense of irony. They have taken Roth’s sulfuric novella of sexual delusion and turned it into a ludicrous May-December romance minus the laughs. This is a three-hanky woman’s movie with more nudity than customarily allowed.
The narrative concerns the love...