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Love in the Time of Cholera
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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).
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?