Newell has an almost-obsessive predilection for bare breasts, which he shows us again and again.  And much like his sex scenes, they contribute nothing to the film.  They’re clearly meant to titillate.  He even trains his camera on the nude, 72-year-old body of Fermina—a move that feels extremely voyeuristic.

Bardem is a good actor, and he holds the film together well.  But his character is not a noble one, so when he finally begins to woo Fermina in her final years, you can’t help but feel that she is yet another sexual conquest, despite his cultlike worship of her throughout he decades.  Mezzogiorno does a fair job with her role, though a little more passion—especially in the earlier part of the film – would have added much.  Leguizamo, as usual, overacts, and Bratt makes his character too bland to add any nuance to the love triangle.

The question one must ask when watching this film is this:  What is true love?  Is it enduring, unfulfilled longing between two people who project unmet needs and disappointments onto a non-existent relationship—or is it a lifetime of commitment, however imperfect, between a man and a woman?  Romantics would have us believe the former; realists will argue the latter.  Where you fall will depend upon the emotional camp you subscribe to.

Either way, the film is watchable, though disappointing.

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Commentary by director Mike Newell
  • “The Making of Love in the Time of Cholera”
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes commentary
  • Theatrical Trailer

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Characters drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes throughout film.
  • Language/Profanity:  A few obscenities and profanities.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Repeated nudity and graphic sexual scenes throughout film; characters discuss virginity in several scenes; character is extremely promiscuous and keeps count of the hundreds of women he beds, many of whom are married.
  • Violence:  Various scenes with dead bodies, due to cholera epidemic; a man murders his wife (offscreen) by slitting her throat; men argue and exchange blows.