First Hit: A wonderful textured romantic film.
Consuelo (played by Penelope Cruz) is a sophisticated college student in a class taught by David Kepesh (played by Ben Kingsley).
At the end of each class he invites all his students to his house for a party. As an aging professor, he finds his sexual thrills by having an affair with his young women students but only after grades are submitted – hence the party.
He had been scoping out Consuelo during class and now at the party he seeks her out for conversation and showing off an original letter by Goya. Because Consuelo is sophisticated and doesn’t fall for overnight flings, David realizes he will have to “woo” her. As a side story to this film is his relationship and friendship with George (played by Dennis Hopper) who also is a serial dater but still married.
In their meetings George gives David advice about is budding relationship with Consuelo. However, at first he doesn’t heed George’s advice, falls in love Consuelo and can’t bring himself to say so or acknowledge his feelings. He also discovers something new; jealousy and experiences this emotion whenever they aren’t together.
When David decides he cannot meet her parents because of his age (he is 30 plus years older than her) she stops the relationship. However, in the end their true feelings for each other find a way to be expressed.
Kingsley is staid and powerful yet he lets the audience see his feelings which are right underneath the surface. As the film progress they become more accessible and we, the audience, get to see a wonderful subtle shift. Cruz is a revelation. This is the second film I’ve seen her in, in the last month. She has become a powerful actress staking a claim to being a great actress. In this film she is seductive, intelligent, beautiful, and powerful. I cannot say enough about her performance. Additionally, the director, Isabel Coixet, got very strong acting from her actors and her interpretation of the novella “The Dying Animal” by Philip Roth was extraordinary.
Overall: This is a strong romantic film with Cruz giving a powerful performance.