2002 LA; 2002 NY
Rated: R for adult language, strong sexual content, and adult themes.
Genre: Drama Romance
Directed By: George Hickenlooper
Running Time: 1:45
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date:
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THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS

 

Byron Tiller is a down and out author who has immense difficulties getting his books published due to his sophisticated material. He lives a basically loving and simple life with his wife Dena (Juliana Margulies  ER, Ghost Ship) who sticks by him, until he's confronted by a mysterious businessman named Luther Fox (rocker Mick Jagger), who offers him a position as a male escort for his company "Elysian Fields". He soon begins to bond with his client and grows close to her husband, author Tobias Allcott (James Coburn  Monsters, Inc., Our man Flint) who takes him under his wing, but he'll soon learn the profession is not all it seems.

The film is a very grim and depressing view into the life of a man who feels motivated to get published but is ultimately thought of as terrible. Despite it all, he doesn't have success as a writer but success at home with his loving wife Dena and their son. I was really interested to see how the story would develop as he so desperately clings onto a dream that is slowly fading away. He has great chemistry with Margulies who tends to really display her acting abilities as she plays off Garcia's desperation. Their scenes are probably best in the film, and is truly touching.

Which makes it harder to watch the character Tiller as he looks for work and a source of money. Garcia manages to convey his desperation and frustration to the audience well, as we witness that he has no other option making money except to work as a male escort. The film has a very deep and profound irony as we watch these male escorts accompanying these lonely women on dates.

One character even laughs off the fact that the women seem to get more emotionally involved in the dates than the actual escorts, yet in the film, the two main focuses of the story seem to get in too deep with the women including Luther who proposes only to be met with a mocking laughter, and Tiller who helps Allcott write the book only to be snubbed viciously. In the end the message is, they're just hookers who dress well, and their future is a rather bleak and meaningless one. James Coburn gives a great performance as a dying author Allcott who pretty much manages to steal the entire movie along with Margulies.

Writer Phillip Jayson Lasker manages to create a story that becomes incredibly hard to buy. The movie begins as a realistic portrayal of an artist struggling to support his family and manages to sedge way off into a complete far-fetched story that tends to completely contradict the characters given to us in the opener of the movie. I found it hard to believe and buy that Garcia's character, who was so stricken with grief and guilt in the beginning managed to so easily bond with his first client, ever.

He takes a job as a male escort yet is hardly ever seen with other woman clients except for one. The problem with this story twist is that Andrea (Olivia Williams  Below), whom is married to Tobias, is a bland character from the beginning. There's nothing even remotely interesting in her personality and seems pretty easy going throughout a majority of the film as the "emotionally torturing" ordeal she seems to be experiencing with her aging husband wanders on. As Garcia's character becomes engrossed in her, for some reason, the two bond and so does Tobias with with Tiller, which becomes very far-fetched that he would bond with someone who is sleeping with his wife.

At times, it was hard to understand why Tiller became less and less guilty about sleeping with other women, when he had such a beautiful wife at home. He never seems even sorry for what he committed and rarely does he ever apologize. He also makes up seemingly paper thin stories which he tells his wife as an excuse to leave for the night, and it becomes hard for the audience to believe that she would buy his excuses in the first place. Mick Jagger who has a small role in the film, seems to be in movie as a filler and often, the writer completely contradicts his personality to the point where we wonder what his purpose in the film is.

At first he comes off as a sly and tempting persona, serving as the narrator, overlooking the story, then, for some unknown reason, has a complete change of heart and we get a glimpse into his character that just seems tacked on to the story awkwardly. The story starts with a very grim and depressing tone, then quickly jumps into a more annoying poignant tale, and once again back into the grim. In the end, many of the great actors are wasted including Margulies, and Angelica Houston who has a thankless role in the film and the movie is wracked in irony and sadness, that it soon becomes hard to figure why.

This is a very grim and contradictory film with an often skewed plot, wasted characters, and actors, though has a heart and incredible irony.