If the young-hottie-inexplicably-f*cks-ugly-old-guy theme of this movie reminds you of "The Human Stain," that would be because they are both based on novels by Philip Roth, who evidently either has been chronicling *someone's* use of literary celebrity (Library of America editions already!) to get awestruck girls into bed, or else enjoys writing out his harmless fantasies about same. In either case, who can blame him?
It does make for some "Oh, please" moments, but this movie is somewhat better than "The Human Stain" because it is a real love story. The ugly old guy actually falls in love with the young hottie; he breaks off the relationship because the problems presented by the 30-year difference in their ages seem insurmountable to him, only to find out two years later that the young hottie was in love with him all along, not merely an infatuated young lit-groupie.
Sadly, the movie solves the age-difference problem by giving the young hottie breast cancer, which, as she puts it, now makes her feel like the older one. This shamefully simple-minded plot twist supposedly makes the two of them a little bit closer in the looks department (but not really - I mean, it's Penelope Cruz vs Ben Kingsley), deprives the ugly old guy of one of the young hottie's breasts that he loved so much by way of punishment for being such a lecher, and, in the worst case, might put them on their death beds at about the same time. Problem solved, if you're a senile writer or a heartless filmmaker, but it leaves a very, very bad taste in the viewer's mouth.
Ben Kingsley is quite good in this, as is the always-likable Dennis Hopper in an uncharacteristic role as a dispenser of sane advice (which turns out to be wrong). And, of course, Penelope Cruz spends a lot of time topless. Our final glimpse of her breasts comes when she asks Ben Kingsley to photograph them before her mastectomy. It is meant to be the elegiac scene that gives the movie its title, but there is something embarrassing and almost laughable about it, as if the writer's fantasies finally run away with him. (In fairness to Roth, I am told the novel ends differently.) If I had written it, it probably would have been about getting a last glimpse of a woman's double-D's before she has breast reduction surgery to relieve her backaches, so it's all relative, isn't it?