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Ben Kingsley was last seen taking a sabbatical from serious drama to overact amusingly as a cross-eyed maharishi in The Love Guru.
Here he commands attention with a powerful performance as college professor David Kapesh whose passionate affair with Cuban student Consuela Castillo (Penelope Cruz) transforms him from serial seducer to obsessive lover.
Spanish director Isabel Coixet succeeds in combining appropriate eroticism with an almost clinical examination of character and emotion to create possibly the best screen version of a Philip Roth story.
There are strong contributions from Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard and, unexpectedly, Dennis Hopper, but it is Kingsley and Cruz, giving far and away her finest performance in an English-language movie, who give Elegy its persuasive emotional power.