Director: Isabel Coixet
Year Released: 2008
Oh, get my handkerchief ready: an aging critic professor (Ben Kingsley) has the great dismay of bedding a student (Penélope Cruz) thirty years younger than him and agonizes over it - gasp! the sadness of it all! - but eventually blows it with her when he refuses to meet her family. I've had the distinctive pleasure of taking a class studying the work of Philip Roth - covering a large span of his work - but Hollywood has (as of 2009) done him wrong - this, like The Human Stain, are lame Winter Summer Romances. It's strange that it was directed by a female, because the third act revelation - bestowing the Cruz character with breast cancer to 'level the playing field' between her and Kingsley is a borderline misogynistic writer's tool: it's now 'okay' for them to be together because she's physically flawed and he's in his 60's (and a friend of his dies suddenly, so Kingsley could be 'next'). The three scenes with Kingsley's estranged son - wonderfully played by Peter Sarsgaard - are the most nuanced and fascinating in the whole movie (Sarsgaard seeks advice from his father regarding an extramarital affair, Dad struggles to offer good advice, being a runaround himself).