||"Ain't it Cool" News
Jan 1, 2002
Anton Sirius reviews THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS
Harry here... I saw this first film, THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS from a screener last year and was quite fond of it. It didn't quite make my top 35 films list this year. Though this is very definitely one of the better films of 2001, specifically Mick Jagger's wonderful role. But here's Anton with this..
The Man from Elysian Fields (2001, directed by George Hickenlooper)
It's often struck me as somewhat ironic that authors seem to make better subjects for films than directors do. For every Gods and Monsters there's a Pickle, while the Naked Lunches and Shadowlands' and, hell, Miserys pile up on the other side of the ledger.
The Man from Elysian Fields does nothing to disprove that little theory of mine.
Andy Garcia stars as a former wunderkind novelist whose career has slammed into a brick wall. The few ideas that do make it through the maze of his writer's block get shot down by his commercial viability-obsessed publisher. His wife (played by Julianne Margulies) has faith, but he doesn't- to avoid disappointing her he lies through his teeth and tells her his latest book has been picked up, with a major push to follow.
Crushed down by the weight of his failure, he ends up in a bar, where chance throws in his path Luther Fox (Mick Jagger). Luther owns an escort service, and he's always on the lookout for new, desperate blood. He eventually accepts- and his first client is the wife of his favorite superstar novelist, Tobias Allcott.
What stands out about the Man from Elysian Fields, aside from the central conceit of Artist as Prostitute (here played out a little more on the surface than is probably good for it), is the acting. Jagger is very nearly as good here as he was in Performance, playing the faded, jaded dandy to the absolute hilt, investing Luther with a tarnished nobility (and a killer wardrobe) that is his only defense against the life that has consumed him. James Coburn is his usual proud, blustery self as the aging Tobias, fighting with everything he has left against the inevitable. The women also play very well in the margins of the story- Olivia Williams as Mrs. Allcott, Anjelica Huston as the only client Luther still handles personally, even Margulies (who's never overly impressed me), all handle their assignments well.
But the film lives or dies on the strength of Garcia's performance, and it's to his credit that it works as well as it does. He finds some new nuances in his standard Righteous, Fallen Man schtick, making his downward spiral and eventual hint of redemption more believable than they have any right to be, really.
Of course the real reason to go see the Man from Elysian Fields is Mick. It's somehow reassuring to see he's still got it when he feels like using it, that no matter what happens in this world, Mick is still Mick.
||"Mick in favourable review" SHOCK!!
We should frame this one!!