What makes this May-December romance good is not so much the storyline,
which is far from unique, but the script and performances. Great
performances by Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz with strong support from
Dennis Hopper and Patricia Clarkson help bring the Philip Roth novel The
Dying Animal to life. Exciting, no. Fascinating, yes.
David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) is a cultural critic and college professor
who spent the 60's in an unhappy marriage, and now spends most of his time
chasing former students for unencumbered sexual conquests, while at the
same time maintaining a sex-only relationship with a woman his own age.
When the games start with beautiful young Cuban-born Consuela (Penelope
Cruz), David expects a typical round of sexual trysts but finds himself
saddled with a new element....love. From that springs jealousy as he
begins to track her every move. And from all this smothering springs the
expected problem of overbearance, which eventually ends the affair, until
two years later when Consuela comes back into his life bearing unexpected
and life-changing news.
Not exciting, but a solid yet not maudlin romance, and slow-paced yet
always an interesting character study, this film was made by the
performances, and they are very, very good.