Picks and Pans Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

updated 11/26/2007 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/26/2007 AT 01:00 AM EST

Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, Giovanna Mezzogiorno | R

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ROMANTIC DRAMA

It's possible to make a good movie from a hack novel (think The Bridges of Madison County) but tougher to derive a great movie from a fabulous book. Exhibit A: Love in the Time of Cholera, a disappointingly dull film version of Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez's magnificent novel. Set in Colombia in the late 1800s and spanning 50 years, Love tells how a besotted clerk (Bardem) continues to long for a young beauty (Mezzogiorno) even after she weds a rich doctor (Bratt). Unlike in the book, on screen characters never have time to bloom as they race through the decades. Instead, all that grows is the thickness of the makeup on actors' faces as their characters age, like kids trying to look like adults in a school play.

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