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Love in the Time of Cholera

How long would you wait for love?

Nobel Prize for Literature recipient, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's masterpiece "Love in the Time of Cholera", originally published in 1985, has finally been adapted for the motion picture screen by Oscar-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood and directed by Mike Newell. It defines the word "epic" by spanning a period of over 50 years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Florentino Ariza (played as a teenager by Unax Ugalde) is a telegraph delivery boy who espies the beautiful Fermina Daza (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) through a window when arriving at her father, Lorenzo Daza's (John Leguizamo) estate in the Colombian port city of Cartagena. Florentino is immediately taken with her and proceeds to compose lengthy letters to Fermina in hopes of winning her love. When Lorenzo learns of their feelings for one another, he whisks Fermina away, deep into the Colombian countryside to stay with family, specifically her cousin, Hildebranda Sanchez (Catalina Sandino Moreno, from 2004's "Maria Full of Grace"). When Fermina returns to Cartagena as a young woman and encounters Florentino (now Javier Bardem), she realizes the mistake of their love and rebuffs him. Instead she marries Dr. Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt), a wealthy European-educated doctor, who then takes her to Paris for a honeymoon, not to return for years. In the meantime, Florentino nurses his broken heart by writing poetry and driving his poor mother, Transito Ariza (Fernanda Montenegro) crazy. She coerces Florentino's Uncle Leo (Hector Elizondo) into giving him a job, hoping he will forget about Fermina. Florentino is finally introduced to sex, which begins an odyssey of sexual conquests for him numbering over 600, all the while never giving his heart to anyone but Fermina. As I stated, this film has all of the components of an epic ---- a movie that should stand the test of time. Whenever a story spans the length of time that this does, there are always inherent problems. But Newell and Harwood have pieced together a marvelous adaptation. The film is rich in so many ways ---- the acting, the cinematography, the soundtrack, the make-up and most importantly ---- the tale itself. Bardem and Mezzogiorno are exquisite, both together and apart. Bardem is incredibly accomplished, going from a paraplegic in "The Sea Inside" to a near-catatonic monster in "No Country for Old Men", now becoming a shy but convincing lover in this film. Mezzogiorno, a well-known Italian actress, is unbelievably beautiful, and so perfect for this role of a headstrong woman never willing to give up. The rest of the cast is brilliant, although I was not enamored with Ugalde as the young Florentino. "Love in the Time of Cholera" is breathtakingly filmed. From the luscious mountainsides of Colombia to the teeming street markets of Cartagena, cinematographer Alfonso Beato does an amazing job. Composer Antonio Pinto is responsible for the gorgeous score, which features original songs by the Colombian-born musical star Shakira. This is an Oscar-worthy film ---- do not miss it! - Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan
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Directed by: 
Mike Newell
Running Time: 
Javier Bardem, Marcela Mar, Benjamin Bratt, Gina Bernard Forbes, Giovanna Mezzogiorno
Screenplay by: 
Ronald Harwood (screenplay) based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Márquez

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