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Love in the Time of Cholera

A Failed Romance

There is something about author Gabriel García Márquez's writing which inspires rabid ardor. And many consider his acclaimed novel Love in the Time of Cholera to be his greatest work. Thus, there will be a trail of many broken hearts in the wake of the book's film adaptation.

Directed by Mike Newell ( Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mona Lisa Smile, Four Weddings and a Funeral), Love in the Time of Cholera is a failed attempt to capture a complex, poetic and epic love story. In the hands of Newell and screenwriter Ronald Harwood (Oliver Twist, The Pianist), it is rendered a sloppy, farcical, saccharine mess. Indeed the cinematic version of Love in the Time of Cholera belongs more in the annals of Mexican telenovelas than on the big screen.

The story, of the disproportionate love between Florentino Ariza (Javier Bardem) and Fermina Daza (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), is told in flashback over the course of fifty plus years. Young Florentino is at once struck with love the moment he sees Fermina, who also returns his affections, albeit less zealously. However, Fermina's overbearing father (played by John Leguizamo) has other designs for her future: a marriage to a rich, upwardly mobile man -- all of which Florentino is not.

When he discovers their secret yet innocent love affair, Fermina is whisked away to the countryside for years. During this time Florentino does not falter in his devotion. The same cannot be said of Fermina. When she finally returns, she quickly and callously rejects Florentino and, in the matter of a few moments, dismisses his love. Nonetheless, Florentino still pines for her, keeping a patient vigil, even long after she moves on to a successful marriage to Dr. Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt).

The script does not do the book justice nor does it translate well on screen. Moreover, the overly-dramatic dialogue is delivered by the cast as if they were twelve-year olds rehearsing speeches for English class. At over two hours, Love in the Time of Cholera is tedious, sigh-inducing and a great disappointment.

Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars