Dean's Movie ReviewThe Dying Animal by Philip Roth? Not for me; I’ve never read it. Maybe it’s good, but I like the Philip Roth who wrote “Defender of the Faith,” Goodbye Columbus and, perhaps, The Ghost Writer.

All the same, “Elegy,” the Isabel Coixet adaptation of The Dying Animal, is a notable if austere film about a senior-citizen professor and his young Latino lover.

Consuela is David Kepesh’s student in a literature class and WANTS to be courted by him after he asks her for a date. By and by they sleep together. Kepesh comes to love Consuela and, assuredly, her body, as she comes to love him. But the old Casanova exhibits a social cowardice that drives the winsome girl away from him.

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It has been claimed that the script by Nicholas Meyer softens the ending in Roth’s novel, but in any case the film is a strong examination of human relationships. It’s very contemporary-Lit: without a plot, with sex, poignant.

Ben Kingsley is David Kepesh, lacking charisma but not personality. He’s credible. More beautiful than she’s ever been, Penelope Cruz is a superb Consuela, providing facial play now inquiring, now touching, and all the pleasing solemnity the movie calls for. Many directorial treats has Coixet engendered here, from visually friendly, gorgeous close-ups to the use of Satie’s venerable music.

I think “Elegy” is a success, whether Coixet actually filmed The Dying Animal or not. She did film an elegy, one in which there exists the craving for sensual vitality in old age, prior to death.