"Elysian Fields is an escort service. We tend to the wounds of lonely women in need of emotional as well as spiritual solace." "Only women?" "Call me old-fashioned." It's not just the reply, it's the way Mick Jagger delivers it. The way only Mick Jagger could deliver it. There is a brave insouciance to it, and George Hickenlooper's "The Man from Elysian Fields" finds that tone and holds it. This is a rare comedy of manners, witty, wicked and worldly, and one of the best movies of the year. It has seven principal characters, and every one of them is seen sharply as an individual with faults, quirks and feelings.
With the craftsmanship of a sophisticated film from Hollywood's golden age, with the care for dialogue and the attention to supporting characters that have been misplaced by the star system, the movie is about what people want and need, which are not always the same thing. It contains moments of tender romance but is not deceived that love can solve anything.
Byron Tiller (Andy Garcia), the hero, is the author of a good first novel and now has written a bad second one. He is afraid to tell his wife Dena (Julianna Margulies) that his new novel has been rejected and that they desperately need money. In a bar, he meets a man with the obscurely satanic name Luther Fox (Jagger). Fox runs Elysian Fields, an escort service for wealthy women. Byron agrees to take an assignment, and he finds himself with the lovely Andrea Allcott (Olivia Williams). Why would she need to pay for companionship? It is a form of loyalty to her husband, who is old and diabetic, and who she loves. It would be cheating to go out with an available man.
Her husband is Tobias Allcott (James Coburn), who has won Pulitzer Prizes for his novels. He knows about his wife's arrangement, treats Byron in a dry, civilized manner, and enlists the younger writer's help with his current novel. Soon Byron is providing solace, of different kinds to be sure, to both of the Allcotts. He's a little dazzled by their qualities. And then there are two other characters, who add depth to the peculiar emotional complexity of the escort business: Jennifer Adler (Anjelica Huston), who pays for Luther Fox's services but doesn't want them for free; and Greg (rock star Michael Des Barres), a successful escort who gives Byron helpful tips on the clients.