Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32

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Critic Reviews

  1. A richly textured and compelling film.
  2. There's a poetic irony to the idea that it took a female filmmaker to finally do justice to Philip Roth on screen.
  3. Smart and self-deprecating story about love and mortality: It’s merely a winter's tale told with a summer's palette.
  4. 88
    This is an offering for mature viewers thrown out amidst a sea of summer flotsam. The title, Elegy, is perfect for the material. There is much tragedy and truth in what the makers of this movie have brought to the screen.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    True to its title, Elegy is a spare, meditative and melancholy film. It is a deeply affecting and profoundly observed saga about love, art, beauty and, especially, mortality.
  6. 88
    This melancholy mediation on aging and desire hangs on an exquisite performance from Penelope Cruz.
  7. While this may seem like an apologia for randy older men, it doesn't come off that way, and Cruz gives her best performance to date.
  8. The film is exquisite on every level, full of sadness and emotional surprise.
  9. 80
    The Spanish director Isabel Coixet works with candor, directness, and simplicity. She isn't afraid of lengthy scenes of the two actors just talking to each other, mixed with lavish but respectful attention to Cruz's body, especially her bare chest, which is treated as one of the wonders of all creation.
  10. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    This is a good, serious and absorbing movie -- especially, perhaps, for a reviewer who is roughly Kepesh's age and, of course, eagerly evading the issues his story forces up.
  11. 75
    As an acting showcase that builds to some unexpectedly moving moments, Elegy has much to recommend it. Had Coixet found better ways to connect those moments, she might have REALLY had something to rival what Roth does on the page.
  12. 75
    By the time it's over, Penelope Cruz has slipped away with it, and transformed Kingsley's character in the process. It's nicely done.
  13. If Coixet's film is substantially more restrained than its explicit source material (Nicholas Meyer, himself a fine novelist and director of the second and best Star Trek film, adapted), it is no less provocative as a poetic meditation on love, sex and death.
  14. The result, Elegy, isn't a great film but it is a good one, and better for Coixet's perspective, her ability to interpret Roth's world from the other side of the gender fence.
  15. 75
    As formidable as Kingsley is, Elegy wouldn't work if his object of obsession wasn't worthy of him.
  16. 75
    Kingsley dims divine Elegy.
  17. 70
    Sparse, low-budget drama, helmed by Spaniard Isabel Coixet, intelligently translates Roth's meditation on lust and mortality without soft-pedaling its narrator's brutally honest, unabashedly sexist views.
  18. 70
    While excellent in many technical respects, is a muted, pretty, anesthetic concoction that's never fully satisfying.
  19. Elegy is a curious example of misplaced good taste.
  20. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Elegy drifts helplessly into melodrama, and it loses its bearings and its head in a ridiculous final act.
  21. Cruz's performance deserves to be seen widely, and it should place her again in line for prizes, but the story's pretensions and downbeat mood will not endear the film to audiences.
  22. A spare, melancholy film that is so far in spirit from its source, Philip Roth's "The Dying Animal."
  23. The problem with Elegy has nothing to do with faithfulness and everything to do with interpretation. The film is an overly polite take on a spiky, claustrophobic, insistently impolite novel.
  24. What line is thinner than the one between confession and narcissism? Upon that line, exactly, does Elegy dwell, before tumbling off on the bad side.
  25. 50
    Elegy's last act is a mournful smorgasbord of bathos in which major and supporting characters alike drop like flies. The body count is practically Shakespearean. The same, regrettably, can't be said for Coixet's touch when it comes to tragedy.
  26. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    While the supporting actors are engaging, the turgid screenplay lets the whole thing down.
  27. 40
    Spanish director Isabel Coixet's hushed and understated Elegy is a flat, joyless affair.
  28. 40
    Elegy seems determined to make real every ageist dig that could be thrown its way -- out of touch, balefully slow and, for a film at least partly about the zesty enterprise of sex, awfully lifeless.
  29. Roth's works are particularly hard to do justice to onscreen, perhaps because the celebrated author's personality is really in his words
  30. 38
    A windbaggy film of Phillip Roth's novella "The Dying Animal."
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 57 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 23
  2. Negative: 4 out of 23
  1. Dec 26, 2015
    An interesting character study of a May December romance. And what does his best friend advise? And what does his estranged son want to talkAn interesting character study of a May December romance. And what does his best friend advise? And what does his estranged son want to talk to him about? There's a lot more going on around these two lovers and that makes the movie enjoyable. Full Review »
  2. Jun 18, 2015
    What a waste of an interesting cast! Wooden dialog, no credibility to their relationship, hokey TV style lighting. Really embarassingly badWhat a waste of an interesting cast! Wooden dialog, no credibility to their relationship, hokey TV style lighting. Really embarassingly bad script where the character's past and issues are laid out in contrived statements that don't sound like dialog at all. Poor Penelope... you could see she barely wanted to be in the same room with the Kingsley character, much less be in sex scenes with him. Full Review »
  3. Lyn
    May 29, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. I'm fond of talky movies like this -- and of Ben Kingsley -- but was distracted by the contrast between his timeworn hedonist and Penelope Cruz's earnest young beauty. You look from his countenance to hers and you think . . . "Um . . . really???" Also disliked the corny developments of the denouement. While all the performances were excellent, I did love the supporting work of Dennis Hopper and Patricia Clarkson. The professor's relationships with those characters actually were more interesting than his obsession with the student with the great face and bod. Full Review »