The Man From Elysian Fields (10/10)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


Take Sunset Boulevard, and its huge mansion with the omnipresent swimming pool, substitute Director George Hickenlooper for Billy Wilder, Andy Garcia for William Holden, James Coburn for Gloria Swanson, Olivia Williams for Erich von Stroheim, and, viola, youíve got the basis for the story of The Man From Elysian Fields, with Mick Jagger thrown in for good measure. 

 Luther Fox (Jagger) runs an escort service called Elysian Fields. Byron Tiller (Garcia), a struggling writer of fiction, meets Fox after being rejected by both his publisher and his former employer, at a time when heís destitute and depressed.  Heís not producing an income to care for his beautiful and loving wife, Dena (Julianna Margulies) and their son.  Despite her unquestioning support for his income-less efforts to get published, Tiller enters into what rapidly turns into a Faustian-type deal with Fox, who fixes him up with the gorgeous Andrea Alcott (Williams). Andrea is married to terminally ill-world famous author Tobias Alcott (Coburn) and the game is afoot.

 Phillip Jayson Laskerís script seamlessly shows how Tiller is slowly but easily lured into relationships with both the Alcotts, jeopardizing the love of his devoted and trusting wife.  Tiller proceeds despite his feelings of  guilt.  He thinks heís got the world on a string, sublimating the personal and moral consequences of what heís doing.  But, then, isnít that how the devil wants his victims to think?

 Tiller stumbles his way deeper into a morass as the Alcotts lure him into what seems an irresistible venture. He never seems to ask the question, is this too good to be true?  Garcia captures the vulnerability and depression of a struggling writer perfectly.  All the actors are superb, but Jagger is brilliant. Luther Fox is a role against image (although Jagger started out as a middle class student at the London School of Economics, the world knows him as a wild, hard rocker).  Fox is a suave, debonair sophisticate apparently from the upper class, and apparently in control of everything. This impression crumbles as we learn about his relationship with Jennifer Adler (Angelica Huston), which isnít what he assumes.

 Not as dark and gothic as Sunset Boulevard, and despite an ending that needed the touch of a Julius Epstein (Casablanca),  this is an enjoyable, stimulating movie by any measure.

 The End