Saturday, September 27, 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera

Yesterday, I watched the movie Love in the Time of Cholera, a film adaptation from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's best-selling novel. So many people had recommended me to read it, and, being that it just became a movie, I put it on the top of my summer reading list. Even though it took much time and focus, it really was a good read.

I am so impressed with the extraordinary detail that Marquez includes in his writing. It is inspiring almost, to think that someone can actually convey that much emotion and description through writing. His use of sensory details was so intense that I felt sick when he described bad breath during a sex scene or I felt depressed when our poor soul Florentino was wallowing in his own despair.

Marquez has talent, and he may be one of the best writers alive today.

Notes on the movie: I understand that if every single detail were to be included in the movie, it would have extended to about five hours, a bit short of its two hours and twenty minutes. A lot more of his writing could have been voiced over, and more of the dialogue could have been explained or elaborated on, because a lot of the missing details helped more of the plot and the characters make sense.

At first, when I had read the book, I pictured Florentino to be more attractive than he was. That strangely attractive recluse that didn't make much money. I didn't think that Javier was the best choice at first. I also didn't envision Dr. Juvenal Urbino to be so attractive. Benjamin Bratt was dashing, and he wasn't so much older than Fermina Daza. I expected them to be much different in age which would have made them looked more mismatched (what I got out of it). Fermina's actress was a good choice. She had these mesmerizing eyes that hooked you.

But, when I started watching the movie, maybe Florentino was supposed to be less attractive. It would make more sense when Fermina rejects him in the market place after not seeing each other after so long. Benjamin Bratt might have been a better choice (he was great in the part), but they should have made him look much older.

John Leguizamo was incredible too, as Fermina's father. I expected her father to be older and larger, a bit chubbier, but Leguizamo is an excellent villain and character to hate.

The movie seemed to be a fast-forwarded version of the movie. I felt like everything was sped up, and details were missing. I felt compelled to insert in the missing details or explanations when the movie left them out. My friend was not the happiest with me when I kept blabbing all the details. (I couldn't help it!)

On the book: It was much better to read it first and then watch the movie. The movie made so much more sense after reading all of the missing details. All of Florentino's mistresses made more sense (more details of who they were), but maybe all of the details weren't all that necessary. Often, I had trouble understanding what was important because so much was included in the littlest parts. He would go on and on about some small tangent and then it would mesh into a new scene. The long chapters also made it more difficult to comprehend and focus, but it helped to sit down for a long period of time and read. Otherwise, if you read it quickly in spurts, nothing would ever make any sense.

But, now onto the plot: I really loved that he compares love to cholera. That is brilliant. The symptoms of love are the same as those of love, and lost love. And, it also implies that one can die of love or for love--love and death go hand in hand. That shows an intelligent man, an intelligent writer.

I loved Marquez's portraits of women through the many female characters. He has very interesting takes on women's psyches and even on sex. A lot of the women are understood and commented on through their sexual patterns and behaviors. Very cool to look into.

What I had trouble with was our man Florentino. At times, I just wanted him to give up on Fermina. Love someone else! Get on with your life! Come on man! Get over it. Find another woman. It was ridiculous that he wouldn't let her go for so long--oh wait--never! He never got over her! Not even when he was an old man!

Now, listen. Can you really love someone like that for so long, even though they dislike you and hate you so much and have moved on and made a family with another man? How can you overcome that jealousy? How can you let yourself live in that misery, waiting for tomorrow that didn't come until he was in his eighties? I just think it sounds too depressing, too unrealistic to ever be true. Do you think it's too far-fetched?

I think it's that idea of the heroic male in love that he's trying to get across. I guess it could happen, but often, it got a bit annoying and repetitive. I wanted to yell at him through the pages. Often I rolled my eyes at him. Come on old man, suck it up and move on. At least he got a bunch of mistresses along the way.

And with Fermina: I couldn't really ever understand her feelings about the men. Who did she really love all along? It seems she didn't really love Dr. Urbino but she grew to love him, but not in a passionate, sexual way. More of a loving partner, companionship kind of way. I didn't understand why she rejected Florentino in the streets--because of his looks? I just never got her situation. What was going on with her inside? Or is that the point; women never know or it is hard to make sense of how a woman feels with love.

I don't really know. They all are speculations and interpretations. I guess I'm just looking for some answers.

And, I thought the ending could have been a bit better. Something stronger. I don't know what, but I was looking for something more powerful or closing.

Anyway, what did you think of the movie? What did you think of the book? Are either worth getting into?

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