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Love in the Time of Cholera
Release Date: Nov. 16, 2007
Reviewed: Aug. 22, 2013, 1:56 a.m.
Love in the Time of Cholera image This is John Leguizamo in LITTOC. We spent forty minutes attempting to capture this frame.
Get Lasik.
"All you need is love." John Lennon. Smart man. Shot in the back. Very sad.
By: Christian Treubig
Love in the Time of Cholera image
Skip the movie; you’ll be better off catching the real thing.

Though we may come across as lifelong buds, the Dueling Chaps, as you’ve come to know and love us, only recently crossed paths. Due to an ever-escalating rock cocaine and prostitute habit, Dueling Chap Steve is forced to rent out the backyard toolshed of his garish Beverly Hills mansion to help cover the onerous monthly overhead associated with those vices. Until recently, the lucky tenants were a salt of the earth middle-aged couple. However, at his most recent New Year’s bash, Steve as usual had one too many eggnogs and got a bit handsy with the wife. When the husband caught them in the act, it effectively ended their landlord-tenant relationship.

Enter yours truly, a newly minted Starbucks barista looking to take the Hollywood scene by storm. I have an acting tutor, and am currently learning how to stare in shock at ominous things in the distance. Of course, this leaves my budget in quite the crimped state, so I was elated when I found a Craigslist ad for a “fully furnished 1 bed/1 bath 400 sq. ft. suite with a private entrance, $600/mo, no pets or muslims”. When I met Steve for a tour of the digs, I’ll admit that that I was initially a bit perturbed that the specs were not exactly as he represented them. The space was actually 20 square feet, and not 20-squared square feet (to be fair to Steve, he admitted this minor arithmetical flub straight out of the gate). Obviously there was no room for a bathroom, bed, or furnishings; he just flat-out lied about that. But I was willing to overlook our relationship’s shaky start, given that he seemed to be a Hollywood heavy-hitter and I needed connections.

The genesis of was nothing short of serendipitous. About two weeks into my stay, Steve stumbled out of his home in his blue suede bathrobe carrying a half empty whiskey bottle, and angrily knocked on my padlocked tin door. Before I could remind him that I already paid rent to cover the next 24 months, he blurted out “Do you like websites?” I nodded curiously. “Let’s have one of those then,” he followed up as he smiled and winked, then took a swig of whiskey and returned to his palatial estate.

Given my acting expertise, and Steve’s presumably expansive background in the film industry, I set to work on the internet movie mecca you are currently viewing. Completing it was a challenge, as the terms of my lease explicitly forbade me from using the home’s Wi-Fi, and it’s generally very difficult to fully harness the power of a website without an internet connection. Steve spends the bulk of his days viewing pornography originating from various Southeast Asian locales, so it’s near impossible for me to sneak onto the network without him noticing.

Despite these limitations, I finished the in less than a week, and worked up the courage to knock on the door of Steve’s manse to present him with our foray into the World Wide Web, fully expecting my efforts to be reciprocated with auditions for several TV pilots. Unfortunately, he had no recollection of any website request, or who I was. I berated him on the spot, as he broke down in tears. He confessed that despite his spacious villa in the Hills, he had not made his fortune in movies, but rather in monochromatic mock turtlenecks, an industry that has collapsed since the death of Steve Jobs, precipitating his downward spiral into hookers and alcohol. Of course, he had absolutely zero, zilch, nada interest in reviewing films.

As such, to assure this site doesn’t go to waste, I have been writing both my and Steve’s reviews from the start. Until now. I tried to get him to join me at the theater, but the terms of his parole forbid him from getting within 500 feet of any establishment that sells items that could be used as lubricant, popcorn butter included. As an alternative, we decided to just cuddle up on his couch, split a Hot Pocket twin-pack, and catch whatever was featuring on cable. Last night, Love in the Time of Cholera occupied the primetime slot, and I figured a movie starring Iberia’s finest artist since Picasso, Javier Bardem, could finally spur in my fellow chap an appreciation of film.

What a disaster. Love in the Time of Cholera is basically The Notebook except the people are only sort of good-looking and you don’t care if they die. Plus, The Notebook doesn’t give away its own ending in the first twenty seconds. LITTOC opens with the two leads, Javier Bardem and a somewhat hot white chick (SHWC from here on out), both now elderly, confronting each other after the death of SHWC’s husband, with Bardem explicitly elucidating that he has spent the past half-century in unsuccessful pursuit of this now finally single woman. There’s your license to check out for the next two hours. It’s perhaps the most inexplicable instance of “open with the ending” in film history, as it renders impotent any attempt at suspense in the chronologically preceding scenes, and there was absolutely no need for any of the information presented in the opening spoiler to be frontloaded.

Even if you weren’t aware of the inevitable outcome of every scene, it’s so boring that you’d be hard pressed to give a crap anyway. First off, it’s as cliché as can be. LITTOC is based on a novel, and I sure hope the novel is more original than the big screen adaptation. I have a feeling we’ve seen this setup before: Poor guy wants to marry rich girl, but her father doesn’t approve, so she’s forced into marriage with a rich older man that she ends up regretting. (That is a cliché theme in literature, right? I’m not sure, as I stopped reading books after He's Just Not That into You, which gave away the ending of He's Just Not That into You.)

In addition to the uninspired premise, LITTOC takes what the filmmakers deemed to be the most interesting “episodes” from the book, and then throws them together in a random jumble on screen with no emotional continuity between them. It’s hard to tell where blame lies, but either it’s the most monotonous book ever written, or the movie contains a terrible selection of episodes. Every scene is either Bardem using his skills in poetry to score random chicks to help him get over the one he truly loves, or SHWC looking sad as she sits around doing nothing. We then fade to black so the makeup crew can age the actors 2.5 years, then fade back in to do the same scene all over again.

Bardem’s and SHWC’s characters are quite simply wimps. They’re intelligent people, and know from a very early age that they both possess an undeniably strong love for one another. These feelings continue into middle age, and yet they refuse to take mutually decisive action to consummate the love even though they must know that their lives will end up unfulfilled. Bardem and SHWC perfectly emote their characters’ internal frustrations with their own inability to grab life by the horns; they want to scream in anger at the paths their lives have taken, but lack the courage to do so. They’re hypersensitive, sort of pathetic people. But who wants to root for pathetic people? As every sequence invariably ends with the two of them not hooking up (which, as mentioned, we already knew), you’re left thinking “Well, they had it coming.”

When we finally, tortuously make our way back to the “this is where we came in” moment, LITTOC at last becomes interesting, though it’s hard to tell if it’s because of improved quality or simply because the final fifteen minutes weren’t ruined by the opening scene. Here, as Bardem and SHWC near the end, the mutual regret over their wasted lives becomes palpable, as their rotted bodies render them powerless to fully express the desire that is now stronger than ever. It’s an effective tragic ending, not because of an unforeseen negative turn of events, but because the protagonists knew it would end this way all along.

Needless to say, Love in the Time of Cholera has failed to inspire in my dueling cohort a love of movies, and Steve now hates the entire art form with a passion. Instead, he has a renewed interest in Colombia, the setting for LITTOC. Particularly, he is now seeking to score some of that nation’s premier exports, a task I have agreed to assist him with as long as he steps up to the plate and finally writes his own review for this flick.

SCORE (Out of 10):
Get Lasik.
Foreign films: ya can’t live with em, you can’t sit through em.
By: Steve Loori
Love in the Time of Cholera image
Javier Bardem? More like Javier Boredom!

Let me start by saying that I did not know what Love in the Time of Cholera was about going into it. I knew that it would be about love, and the endurance of emotional ties during uncertain times of illness and death. Or at least, I thought I knew that. Everyone once knew that the world was flat too. You live and you learn I guess. Cholera is mentioned in the movie a few times, but none of the characters die from it; everyone makes it well into old age, surviving in a time of disease and flourishing economically while being surrounded by apparent poverty. It is a confusing title to say the least, but who am I to judge? I’ve never had cholera, so maybe it is not as bad as my perception. Even if cholera is not so bad, I can assure you that Love in the Time of Cholera is awful.

Love in the Time of Cholera opens with an elderly man falling off a ladder to his death. We then move to another fossil getting his groove on with a hot, young chick. He hears some church bells and decides that someone important must have died and then inexplicably tells the chick to “go back to college”. It was a very strange scene to open the movie, but it got weirder. The old fella who is still kicking goes to the wife of the dead man and exclaims his love for her, and she responds by screaming at him to get out. From that point we are transplanted back in time further, and we see a young man falling in love with a young girl and being separated by circumstance and an overprotective father. The two are forced apart and the young boy does everything he can to get back to her, and once he does she defies reason and logic (like a typical female, am I right guys?) and tells him to take a hike. Somewhere around this point the young boy turns into Javier Bardem and he deals with his rejection with an absurd amount of well-documented sexual encounters. Love in the Time of Cholera should have been called Love in All Times of the Day: How I Dodged the Clap Without Protection. Also somewhere around this point is where I dozed off for the first time.

The acting was not great in Love in the Time of Cholera. Javier Bardem was believable and interesting, but his character lingered without any reward. His portrayal of a decrepit, older gentleman had transitioned smoothly; his ability to move like that of a much older man was fantastic. Giavanna Mezzogiorno never changed as her character aged, though, which was noticeable and frustrating. Benjamin Bratt was a doctor and was able to pull off smug, upper-class Colombian with ease. The main girl’s father was played by the chameleonic, house favorite John Leguizamo. Leguizamo made the movie bearable, though not really because he provided any strong characterization, more because he looked awesome and was non-purposefully delightfully funny when he was angry (Latino Heat at its best). Leguizamo played a phenomenal emotionally charged Queens, New York native suffering from high blood pressure and trouble pronouncing “th” and “r” sounds phonetically. He stepped up to the plate and nailed it. Unfortunately, though, he was supposed to be a well-off and dignified Colombian patriarch. So he whiffed the crap out of that one. The rest of the accents were thick, which frustrates me, but I at least understand that Love in the Time of Cholera was a major release beyond the United States, so I was not very mad about it.

Beyond the acting being OK at best, the make-up for Love in the Time of Cholera was an absolute atrocity. The old people must have been moisturizing a lot in their youth (perhaps those scenes were deleted), because they were living life wrinkle-free on their way to the grave. Turning black hair to gray and eventually to white is not a sufficient way to show significant and rapid aging. It is a simple thing to see on screen, but somehow the producers, director, and make-up people never thought about it once while putting Love in the Time of Cholera together.

Dawson from Dazed and Confused hit the nail on the head when he said “I don’t regret the things I’ve done, I regret the things I haven’t done”. Well, I don’t regret seeing Love in the Time of Cholera, because now I know never to see it again (unless I am struggling to fall asleep at night and need a remedy for my insomnia). Hopefully, the eight of you that see this will recognize that you should never waste your time with it. So if you see No Country for Old Men and Skyfall and decide that you need more Bardem, just stay patient and wait around until he makes something else because Love in the Time of Cholera was miserably boring and impossible to sit through.

SCORE (Out of 10):