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The Man From Elysian Fields

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Man From Elysian Fields

Starring: Andy Garcia, Mick Jagger
Director: George Hickenlooper
Rated: R
RunTime: 106 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: James Coburn, Julianna Margulies, Olivia Williams, Michael Des Barres, Xander Berkeley

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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 difficulties.

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 purchase.

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

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