LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA: A Cautionary Screenwriting Tale

loveI’m not going to do a full breakdown of this movie, but just a quick mention.  I saw it last night on cable.  Lush, beautiful, and a total CAUTIONARY TALE ABOUT THE DANGERS OF A WEAK MAIN CHARACTER!!!

The two lovers Fermina and Florentino meet in their youth and he takes a vow to love her forever.  And he does.  Even though separated by her scheming father, Florentino goes from a romantic youth to a pathetic adult…unable to be apart from the girl who not only no longer loves him, but is married.  

To drown out the pain of separation, Florentino goes on a fornication rampage, chalking up over 622 conquests over 50 years while trying to achieve his goal…to wait for Fermina’s husband to die so he can win Fermina back.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA is a celebrated book, but as a movie Florentino is a disaster of a main character.  We aren’t rooting for him to achieve his goal, he has no real drive (waiting for someone to die of old age is not an active goal, it’s a punch line) and he’s so weak that breaks down in tears quite a lot as an adult.  If you thought Javier Bardem was scary when he was killing people, you should see him cry.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed; if you have an unsympathetic character, going after a weak goal, with no real opposition, you’re in big trouble.    This movie was made by top people, with a great cast, beautifully shot…and it all meant nothing without a good “filmic” story behind it.  Budget $45M.  Worldwide box office $11M.

I have no doubt that the book is wonderful, but rules of film structure and character driven stories are to be ignored at one’s peril.

–Jeffrey Alan Schechter

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