The somber love affair between a promiscuous professor of English lit who dreads old age (Ben Kingsley in fine form) and one of his students, a beautiful woman thirty years his junior (Penelope Cruz, also excellent), turns even gloomier in the second half as their individual fates unfold. But you expected that from the title, right? The screenplay, adapted for director Isabel Coixet (The Secret Life of Words) by writer Nichols Meyer (Sommersby) from Philip Roths short novel The Dying Animal, lets the actors graze freely on the duplicities of love, especially the disapproving Greek chorus of Patricia Clarkson (odd woman out), Dennis Hopper (cheating poet), and Peter Sarsgaard (the profs estranged son). Give it a hanky and a half for effort (106 min.).
Director: Isabel Coixet
Writer: Nicholas Meyer
Producer: Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Andre Lamal, Richard Wright, Eric Reid, Terry A. McKay and Judd Malkin
Cast: Penélope Cruz, Ben Kingsley, Dennis Hopper, Peter Sarsgaard, Patricia Clarkson, Deborah Harry and Charlie Rose