In George Hickenlooper's bittersweet comedy, THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS, Byron
Tiller (Andy Garcia) is desperate. The author of "Hitler's Child," a book
gathering dust on bookstore sales tables, he has been unable to support his
family. His wife Dena (Julianna Margulies) doesn't even have enough money to
buy name-brand ketchup. "Heinz -- the man makes 57 varieties, and we can't
afford any of them?" he asks her rhetorically.
Unlike Byron, the movie's producers apparently did have enough money, since they
purchased a fine script from Phillip Jayson Lasker. Full of insightful yet
funny one-liners, the movie turns out to be much more serious than you initially
suspect given the way Byron attempts to solve his family's financial
One day in a bar, Luther Fox (Mick Jagger) offers Byron a possible solution to
his woes. Luther suggests that Byron come to work for his company, Elysian
Fields. They provide escort services for rich women. "Only women?" Byron
inquires. "Call me old fashioned," Luther replies with sweet sincerity. Both
Garcia and Jagger turn in perfectly executed and wonderfully sympathetic
characters, who are alternately touching and funny.
Byron, who, of course, keeps his temporary new profession from his wife, is a
little excited but mainly extremely embarrassed by what he is able to do. When
his first date, Andrea Allcott (Olivia Williams), the wife of famous writer
Tobias Allcott (James Coburn), wants a biscotti from a street vendor, Byron asks
him for a receipt. The vendor laughingly refuses to supply any proof of
Among the thoughts that the movie offers you is Tobias's advice to Byron, "Be
careful of women who like you just as you are. It's a sure sign that they
settle too easily." Extremely well shot by cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau,
the movie consistently impresses. Just one final thought to men down on their
luck like Byron. Don't quit your day job in order to follow in his footsteps.
He finds that the life of a male gigolo is far from a happy one.
THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS runs 1:46. It is rated R for "language and sexual
content" and would be acceptable for most teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes