Film Review: Disgrace



Marrakech International Film Festival

MARRAKECH, Morocco -- The white rule is over in South Africa and blacks give vent to their anger and frustration over the long virtual slavery they have had to endure. It is this transition that Steve Jacobs captures in his "Disgrace" through the eyes of a white Capetown university professor. David Lurie (John Malkovich), teaching romantic poetry, has this pathological, almost uncontrollable, desire for sex.

When this takes him to the bed of a colored student, it can only spell disaster, particularly when the girl spills the beans to her boyfriend. Lurie is asked to resign, and he retires to his daughter Lucy's (Jessica Haines) farm in the remote countryside. When she is raped by three black men, the attack leaves father and daughter emotionally and physically broken.

Though the film would have a limited festival appeal with its narration on history and sex and a fine performance by Malkovich as a self-absorbed man with racial and predatory instincts, the story often appears a little unreal. One black characer Petrus (Erique Ebouaney) is blurred, and as Lucie's neighbor it is unclear why he first seeks to destroy her and then tries to help her to her feet.

Steve Arnold's photography captures the splendid South African locations.

Production Companies: Fortissimo Films, Sherman Films, Whitest Pouring Films and Wild Strawberries.
Cast: John Malkovich, Eric Ebouaney, Jessica Haines.
Director: Steve Jacobs.
Screenwriter: Anna Maria Monticelli.
Based on a novel by: J.M. Coetzee.
Executive Producers: Julio DePietro, Wouter Barendrecht, Michael J. Werner.
Producers: Anna-Maria Monticelli, Emile Sherman, Steve Jacobs.
Director of photography: Steve Arnold
Production designers: Mike Berg, Annie Beauchamp.
Music: Graeme Koehne, Anthony Partos.
Editor: Alexandre de Franceschi.
Sales agent: Ventes A L'Etranger.
No rating, 120 minutes.