Synopsis: David Kepesh is growing old. He's a professor of literature, a student of American hedonism, and an amateur musician and photographer. When he finds a student attractive, Consuela, a 24-year-old Cuban, he sets out to seduce her. Along the way, he swims in deeper feelings, maybe he's drowning. She presses him to sort out what he wants from her, and a relationship develops. They talk of traveling. He confides in his friend, George, a poet long-married, who advises David to grow up and grow old. She invites him to meet her family. His own son, from a long-ended marriage, confronts him. Is the elegy for lost relationships, lost possibilities, beauty and time passing, or failure of nerve?
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Isabel Coixet
Production: MGM
  3 wins & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
112 min

- We're not all descended from the Puritans.

- No?

There was another colony,

It's not on the maps today.


Ah, right,

you mentioned in your book...

The colony where anything goes... went.

There was booze...

There was booze, fornication,

there was music...

They even...

you name it...

They even danced round the Maypole

once a month, wearing masks,

worshiping god knows what, Whites and

Indians together all going for broke.

Who was responsible for all of this?

A character by the name of

Thomas Morton.

Ah... The Hugh Hefner of the Puritans.

You can say that.

I will read you a quote of what the

Puritans thought of

Morton's followers.

"Debauched aliens and atheists

falling into great licentiousness

and leading degenerate lives. "

When I heard that, I packed my bags,

I left Oxford, I came straight to America.

America the licentious.

So what happened

to all of those people?

The Puritans shut them down,

they sent in Miles Standish,

Leading the militia, who chopped down the

Maypole, cut down those coloured ribbons,

Banners everything.

The party was over.

And we became a nation of

strait-laced Puritans.


Isn't that your point though?

The Puritans won.

They stamped out, all things sexual

How would you say?

- Sexual happiness.

- Exactly.

Until the 1960's.

Until the 1960's, where it all

exploded again all over the place.

Right, everyone was dancing

around the Maypole,

then, "make love, not war".

If you remember,

only a decade earlier,

If you wanted to have sex,

if you wanted to make love in the 1950s,

You had to beg for it,

you had to cop a feel...

Or get married.

As I did in the 1960's.

Any regrets?


But that's my secret.

Don't tell anybody.

That's just between you and me.

I think it was Bette Davis who said:

"Old age is not for sissies"

But it was Tolstoy who said that

"the biggest surprise in

a man's life is old age".

Old age sneaks up on you,

and the next thing you know you're

asking yourself, I'm asking myself,

Why can't an old man act his real age?

How is it possible for

me to still be involved

in the carnal aspects of the human comedy?

Because, in my head,

nothing has changed.

Her name was Consuela Castillo

and she was my student.

This course is called

"Practical Criticism".

So... Let's go!

Right to the big question, shall we?

Does "War and Peace"

become a different book

because we read it?

Yes, of course.

But why?

Because we bring something to the book?

We bring ourselves.

What's more, if you read the book again

in 10 years, it will change again,

because you've changed.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I've always been vulnerable

to female beauty,

Ms. Castillo was different,

her posture was perfect.

And she dressed like a

young associate

of a prestigious law firm.

There was a sophistication,

that set her apart.

She knows she's beautiful.

But she's not yet sure what

to do with her beauty.

No, don't take notes.

Because honestly, it's not worth it.

Really, don't give it a thought.

A work of art reminds you of

who you are now.

Since they posted the sexual harassment

hotline number down the hall from my office,

I never make private contact

with any of my students

until they've received their grades.

Afterwards I always throw a cocktail party

for the class.

And it's always a success.

Professor Kepesh,

we saw you on TV last night.

You were great.

Thank you. Charlie Rose was pretty

good too wasn't he?

Well, yes.

- You were great.

- Have a lovely evening.

- Thank you.

It's a colossus of perspective. It depends

on who's observing, right professor Kapesh?

Westerners see Islamic integralists as

primitive and dangerous while,

Islamic integralists see

Americans as depraved and corrupt.

Nothing's changed since the crusades.

We need an alliance of civilizations...

- Ms. Castillo.

- Hi, professor.

- Is this a real letter from Kafka?

- Yes.

Yes, it's one of the original letters

that he wrote to Milena.

It was a gift from someone.

Someone close to you.

Someone who was close

to me, Miss Castillo.


We're not in class.

We don't need to be so formal.


- Do you play the piano?

- Yeah.

Would you play for us?

Too many people.

I'd freeze.

You know there's something about you

that invites a kind of formality.

What do you mean?

You have a kind of elegant austerity.


Something like that.

Well, I guess I got that from my father.

He is austere...

and proud.

Very Cuban.


My whole family is Cuban.

I was 11 years old when I came.

Did you go straight to college

from high school?

No, I was a legal secretary

in a law firm.

You worked.

I tried it, but I didn't like it.

My parents always hoped

I would go to college,

So I made up my mind

and here I am.

I want to show you something.

- Here we are.

- Goya.

- What's this one called?

- "La Maja Vestida."


- And?

- She resembles you.

You resemble her.



I think so.

What do you think?

I don't know.

The eyes, maybe.

Why all this talk about Kafka,

Goya and her Cuban family?

Don't get me wrong, it's great that her

family's Cuban and she enjoys my class.

But I go on yakking away mainly

because I want to f*** her.

- What can I say?

- True.

The room is full of spies.

I love music.

Excuse me.

I love opera, my grandfather

takes me to the Opera,

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Nicholas Meyer

Nicholas Meyer (born December 24, 1945) is an American writer and director, known for his best-selling novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and for directing the films Time After Time, two of the Star Trek feature film series, and the 1983 television movie The Day After. Meyer was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976), where he adapted his own novel into a screenplay. He has also been nominated for a Satellite Award, three Emmy Awards, and has won four Saturn Awards. He appeared as himself during the 2017 On Cinema spinoff series The Trial, during which he testified about Star Trek and San Francisco. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Elegy" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 16 Jun 2024. <https://www.scripts.com/script/elegy_7557>.

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