Love in the Time of Cholera (R)

Drama 138 November 16, 2007
By Robert Wilonsky
This is easily the worst adaptation of a major novel by a Nobel Prize–winning author. Director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and writer Ronald Harwood have rendered Gabriel García Márquez's novel little more than a sudsy telenovela — Lifetime by way of Telemundo. Not that the material didn't teeter in that direction to begin with: The story of Florentino's 50-year crush on Fermina was always little more than a variation on Romeo and Juliet tinged with the flowery scent of magical realism. But there ain't a damned thing real — magical or otherwise — about this abomination, which stars a wasted Javier Bardem as Florentino and Giovanna Mezzogiorno as Fermina, who's so so-so that you'd think a fella could easily forget her after she ditches him for the doctor (played by Benjamin Bratt, who has always been a little made-for-TV anyway). From the hoot-worthy dialogue ("I don't need a medical lesson." "No, this is going to be a lesson in love") to the atrocious old-age makeup slathered on Mezzogiorno (but, oddly, not Bardem) to the dead rats taped to the side of Hector Elizondo's head to the overwrought cameos delivered by Liev Schreiber and John Leguizamo, the entire thing is a wreck. Unless it was trolling for sneering chuckles, in which case — success!
Mike Newell Liev Schreiber, John Leguizamo, Benjamin Bratt, Laura Harring, Javier Bardem Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ronald Harwood Danny Greenspun New Line Cinema

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