(director/writer: Mike Newell; screenwriter: book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ronald Harwood; cinematographer: Alphonso Beato; editor: Mick Audsley; music: Antonio Pinto; cast: Javier Bardem (Florentino Ariza), Giovanna Mezzogiorno (Fermina Daza), Liev Schreiber (Lotario Thugut),  Benjamin Bratt (Dr. Juvenal Urbino), Hector Elizondo (Don Leo), John Leguizamo (Lorenzo Daza), Unax Ugalde (Florintino-teen), Laura Harring (Sara Noriega), Catalina Sandino Moreno (Hildebranda); Runtime: 138; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Scott Steindorff; New Line Cinema; 2007-USA/UK/Mexico/Colombia)

“By any measuring stick, the book is clearly better than the film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The lovesick drama is based on the 1985 acclaimed novel by the Colombia-born Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s scripted without the book’s emotional heft or poignant poetry by the South African Ronald Harwood. It’s well-crafted but sluggishly directed by Brit filmmaker Mike Newell (“Donnie Brasco”/”Four Weddings and a Funeral”), drowning out its spirit even if its story remains faithful to the book. By any measuring stick, the book is clearly better than the dull film.

In 1879, in Cartagena, Colombia, the brash teenager Florentino Ariza (Unax Ugalde) falls for the pretty rich girl, Fermina Daza, after delivering a telegram to her father (John Leguizamo) in his house and taking a peek at her (think Dante peeking at Beatrice).

Time goes by, and they exchange letters while living apart even though her father wants her to forget about him. As an adult Florentino (Javier Bardem, an actor from Spain) loses Fermina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Italian actress) to Dr. Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt), the local aristocratic young doctor.

Florentino obsesses over his lost love more as a neurotic than as a lover, makes a fortune and despite walking with a slouch becomes a great lover. This goes on for more than fifty years. The lost lovers, now in their seventies, meet due to circumstances and they take advantage of the opportunity to get together and screw.

The overlong film never made me catch its love fever as much as it made me sleepy.

REVIEWED ON 7/10/2024  GRADE: C+