Few contemporary love stories have captured the publics imagination as much as Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquezs 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 Newells 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 hes 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. Its a faithful adaptation, blessed with equal amounts of humor, pathos and compassion.