Love In The Time Of Cholera
Set in Colombia, Love in the Time of Cholera follows the journey of a pair of lovers, from the time of their initial meeting, along life’s sad journey across the wastelands of sorrow, to the natural outcome of their love, albeit fifty years on.
Beginning in the early years of the twentieth century, the body of the film comprises a flashback to fifty years prior to its opening and then works its way forward in chronological order. Not only confusing, the opening of the film with the death of Fermina’s husband and the subsequent arrival of her long-time suitor (or rather, stalker), seems rather contrived and slightly irrelevant. Thus first impressions leave something to be desired, so much so that the remainder of the film cannot salvage what has come before.
The film’s handling of some of its key issues definitely leaves something to be desired. The word “love” is attributed so many definitions and meanings, being bandied about in the story-line, so much so that it is difficult to asses whether the love that finally triumphs is indeed something to be applauded and admired. When Fermina finally rejects Florentino’s advances, he chooses to dull the pain of loss through intimate relations with other women and a painstaking record-keeping of all of these liasons. Hardly endearing, this “passtime” turns a sad little man into a sad, twisted little man, who ultimately wins the girl – hardly the noble hero one would expect.
Expectations are certainly undermined by the plot line as well as the execution of the narrative. The dream of a beautiful, heartwrenching period piece, fraught with passion, and danger amidst death and disease, gives way to a nightmare of pretense. The depth of passion and love are not present. The random and underplayed instances of cholera belie both its importance in the film’s title and the seriousness of the infection. Finally, both Florentino and Fernandez are prodded and powdered into roles that far outreach their acting capabilities and the miracle of makeup: unbelievable, as school-girl, young debutate, or frail lover, Fermina’s role falls flat. That of Florentino is not far behind.
Anyone expecting a portrayal of the triumph of love set against a backdrop of old-world intrigue and romance will surely not be disappointed with Love in the Time of Cholera. Anyone expecting a decent and worthwhile version of the above, will find the film sadly lacking.
Reviewed by: Kate van Niekerk
Rating: R – For sexual content/nudity and brief language
Duration: 139 mins.
Director: Mike Newell
Actors: Benjamin Bratt, Gina Bernard Forbes, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, and Javier Bardem.
Release Date: Available now.