We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Ben Kingsley, who can play just about any role, seems to be especially effective playing slimy intellectuals. "Elegy" is a film that could have been made for him, although 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.
Kingsley plays David Kepesh, a professor of literature whose classroom manner seems designed to seduce the young student of his choice from each new class. He narrates the film, and is not shy about describing his methods. To stay out of trouble, he waits until the semester is over, and the grades have been given, and then throws a party at his book and art-filled apartment, where he singles out his prey and dazzles her with flattering insights, intellectual bravado and an invitation to meet sometime -- just for coffee or a drink and conversation, you know.
His target this semester is the lithesome Consuela, played by Penelope Cruz as a Cuban-American who is old enough to know better but discerning enough to see that there may really be something to old Kepesh after all. The professor appoints himself her tutor to all the mysteries of life, art, New York, music and sex. And for a while they mesh and enjoy each other.
But David grows obsessed with jealousy, convinced that Consuela is seeing someone else -- younger, or course, and more handsome and virile. He even accidentally drops in at a dance he knows she's attending, to check up on her. His distrust spoils everything, because she cannot abide not being trusted.