“Love in the Time of Cholera,” review by Susan Granger

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Few contemporary love stories have captured the public’s imagination as much as Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, set in the exotic port city of Cartagena at the dawn of the 20th century – and now Mike Newell brings this spellbinding epic to the screen.

Written by Oscar-winner Ronald Harwood (“The Pianist”), photographed by Alfonso Beato and directed with the deft lightness of Newell’s “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” it chronicles the passionate 50-year obsession that consumes Fiorentino Ariza (Javier Bardem).

The story begins with the accidental death of 80 year-old Dr. Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt). As family and friends comfort his grieving widow, Fermina, (Giovanna Mezzogiono), Fiorentino declares his unrelenting love for her – as their truncated yet intertwined relationship is revealed in flashbacks that are punctuated by a lustrous, anguished undercurrent of suspense – along with three songs by Shakira.

As a naive youth, Fiorentino fell for lovely Fermina at first sight, but her socially-conscious father (John Leguizamo) forbade his courtship, insisting that Fermina marry the highly respected Dr. Urbino. Distraught yet comforted by his devoted mother (Fernanda Montenegro) and given a promising job by his rich uncle (Hector Elizondo), Fiorentiono builds a good life for himself, becoming a wealthy shipowner, while conducting Casanova-like liaisons with 622 women. But he’s patiently biding his time until the now-72 year-old Fermina is, once again, single – and available.

The symbolism of the title is open to several interpretations, comparing the then-prevalent (and fatal) disease with lovesickness; indeed, it becomes pivotal to the symmetry of the metaphorical conclusion. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Love in the Time of Cholera” is a fantasy-filled, romantic 8. It’s a faithful adaptation, blessed with equal amounts of humor, pathos and compassion.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.