Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Love in the time of Cholera

I tried to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera a few years ago. Tried being a keyword, I was unable to finish the book that moved slower than the boats the characters traveled on.

The premise and what have you were beautiful, however. The idea of a man, Florentino Ariza, suffering the rejection of his childhood sweetheart, Fermina Daza, loving her for over 50 years while numbing his pain with sexual endeavors with hundreds of women was intriguing and got me very interested in picking up the book and reading it. I expected nothing less than a book so engrossing, that despite its 348 pages, would be finished in less than three days.

Maybe it was my high expectation, or maybe it's because I like action rather than description in a story... whatever the reason was at the time, I found Love in the Time of Cholera to be excrutiatingly long and boring for its rather promising title and subject matter. I put the book away and forgot all about it and voiced my opinion of it to anyone who would listen. It was simply the most boring piece of work one could possibly imagine.

Now there is a movie depicting this lush story, and I watched it. What I found was an adaptation that surpasses the book in focusing on what draws a reader or audience to such a beautiful love story.

As with all movies, much of the useless details are omitted, and we are immersed in the important details one must wait an excruciatingly long time to experience in the book. The actors are all excellent. I felt casting John Leguizamo as Lorenzo, Fermina's father was interesting, seeing as how he didn't look much older than his daughter. Nonetheless, Leguizamo's performance was excellent as was Hector Elizondo's. Elizondo was virtually unrecognizable, thanks to the amazing makeup jobs for this movie that spans over half a century with the same characters going through life and its hardships. Some of the best aging makeup, I believe, was showcased in this gem of a movie that required aging of the actors' bodies for a scene of nudity.

Benjamin Bratt's role as Dr. Juvenal Urbino, Fermina's husband, was perhaps my favorite character. Bratt was able to present a cocky and at times self-absorbed man in a way that made the character of Dr. Urbino, the main obstacle in Florentino's way to be with Fermina, a likable character one doesn't route for, but rather enjoys watching and observing in his mannerisms and handsome air.

Another aspect of the movie that is worth mentioning is the soundtrack. Shakira sings a few haunting songs that are as lush as the visuals and as sultry as the storyline.

Perhaps I should try reading the book again. Perhaps my reading preference is more lenient now that I'm a few years older, and my mind a bit more mature than when I tried to read this book a few years back... who knows? I will pick it up and give it another try.


Elisabeth said...

Oooh! I loved it too! I have been wanting to read the book now ever since seeing the movie. I hope that it's not as boring as it was for you your first time! Interesting that I had a couple of beefs with the movie that you didn't seem to have. But then, I have beefs with everything! :) But PLEASE PLEASE tell me. To this day I don't know... was the guitar music in the soundtrack all warped and wobbly when you saw it? It was when a bunch of us saw it and some said it was intentional, and some said it was not. I'm really hoping not.

I also find it interesting the way you referred to movies removing the "useless details" from books. Especially given that you are a writer. I do love the concise nature of movies, and when writing screenplays (I've only written shorts) I found that aspect to be a wonderful writing challenge. But I also love the details of books (and the descriptions) and find that movie adaptations often omit the wrong details or omit too much for the sake of time. Course if I hated the book, I probably wouldn't think so. ;)

Reem said...

I am a writer, but that doesn't mean I don't get bored when dust is being described LOL Description is important when trying to create a world for your characters to exist in, but it can really bore the reader (me) if there's more description than dialogue or action, and the story doesn't seem to move at all. I don't wanna read 30 pages describing a room. One page will suffice.

Also, my training in writing is that of brief, concise and to the point explanations, and not so much the flowery and literary writings I mostly can't mimic, and more often than not find unnecessary. Of course, there is flowery and literary writing that is necessary and I love it... I wish I could write like that when it's well done. But I am first a journalistic style writer, and then a creative writer. My journalist side wants to omit the unnecessary and answer the reader's questions and satisfy their curiousity when a story doesn't seem to move along because of boring, and endless fluff.

I read your review of the movie, and I think it's funny how we both had something to say about John Leguizamo LOL I thought he was a strange choice, and found his accent a little goofy, but I think it worked somehow. I thought he did a pretty good job being a greedy businessman with a (though sometimes oppressive) deep belief in his daughter's potential and superiority. The makeup, I thought was really good, but it wasn't flawless for sure. There were shots where the makeup wasn't very well done, but there were more shots with very convincing makeup.

As for the soundtrack, it wasn't warped. Maybe it was wobbly, but the wobbly I heard was typical of this style of guitar music.