Love in the Time of Cholera

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Love in the Time of Cholera Movie Poster Image
Sensual epic romance isn't as magical onscreen.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 138 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Even though he's devoted to Fermina and faithful to her in his heart, Florentino sleeps with lots of other women. Some discussions of religion suggest distinctions between daily life and spiritual faith. Cholera and love are deemed causes for fevers and bad decisions.


First scene shows elderly Juvenal falling off a ladder and dying in his back yard. Fermina's father wields a gun and a whip to threaten others. A brief scene shows men boxing in the street for public entertainment. When a throat is cut, the victim gurgles and dies.


Multiple sex scenes show bodies in profile and in assorted positions/locations (motion is explicit, and naked breasts/nipples and bottoms are shown). More partial-nudity post-sex moments, as well as visible breasts in scenes set on a balcony and in a brothel. Lots of cleavage in general. Florentino is invited to the whorehouse to ease his obsession with Fermina. Discussion of whores is alternately joking and pejorative. Conversation about a man's "thing," (Fermina wonders how it works, and her husband offers a "lesson in love," getting on top of her in bed before the scene fades out). Rumor about a man picking up boys on the dock. Husband's affair hurts his wife. Slang for sex act includes "screw" and "f--k."


Profanity includes one use of "f--k" (as a verb), plus "s--t," "damn," and "screw."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Repeated cigar and cigarette smoking, as well as drinking (liquor and wine) -- both in frustration and in celebration.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this period literary adaptation isn't for kids: It moves slowly, deals with mature themes, and has lots of sex scenes and partial nudity. The sex isn't especially explicit (there's some motion and occasional thrusting, with breasts, nipples, and bottoms visible), but it's frequent and plays into the main character's yearning for his one true love. Characters discuss religion, marriage, and adultery; brief violence includes a cut throat (with blood) and a physically abusive father. Some language (one use of "f--k," plus other choice terms).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bykatielynn08 November 23, 2010

Distasteful adaptation of classic novel

The movie features one long string of sexual encounters for the main character. Viewers may find themselves feeling prurient rather than as tasteful consumers... Continue reading
Adult Written byconkien01 April 9, 2008
Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 December 9, 2013

Epic drags, but the romance doesn't!

As a Bardem fan, I knew I would eventually have to see this gorgeous looking period piece. Bardem's Florentino is a flawed man to be sure, compensating his... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on of Gabriel García Márquez's famous romantic novel, LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA follows postal clerk Florentino (played by Unax Ugalde as a teenager, then Javier Bardem as an adult) from the moment he first spots blue-eyed beauty Fermina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno). But Fermina's widower father. Lorenzo (John Leguizamo is a greedy social climber who won't allow his daughter to marry a mere clerk . Instead, he arranges for her marriage to a wealthy doctor, Juvenal (Benjamin Bratt). The two men are total opposites: Juvenal is a practical-minded scientist, Florentino a desperate romantic. But even as the majority of the population struggles to survive disease (particularly cholera), as well as poverty and selfish government leaders, Fermina's sense of her own limits and options never quite illustrates a broader social and political resonance. As the years pass, Fermina finds her own way to survive the loss of her true love while Florentino deals with his pain by sleeping with hundreds of partners. Though Fermina makes the best of her distinctly female lot (enduring her father's abuses, raising kids, putting up with a cheating spouse), Florentino has more leeway, rhapsodizing to the end.

Is it any good?

At once florid and plodding, Mike Newell's film makes the book's magical realism all too literal. While the film's slow pace and episodic structure are occasionally buoyed by Shakira's vibrant soundtrack contributions, for the most part the movie just presents one event after another -- much like how lovesick hero Florentino records his various sexual conquests in his diary. John Leguizamo's distractingly outsized turn might best be described as Snidely Whiplash-esque.

When Florentino approaches Fermina some 53 years after their first meeting, he insists, "Age has no reality except in the physical world. Spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom." Even if you believe his sentiment, the film can't translate it, losing sight of magic as it focuses on mechanics.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Florentino shows his love for Fermina. How does he defend his many sexual liaisons? Is that a typical expression of romantic love -- either in movies or in real life? How would you feel if someone who claimed to love you behaved that way? If you've read the book the movie is based on, you can also discuss how the two compare. Which do you like better? Why?

Movie details

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