A struggling novelist in Los Angeles joins an elite male escort service in order to support his family, and begins an affair with the wife of a well known writer. — Genre: Feature Film-Drama — Rating: R — Release Date: 18-MAR... more »-2003
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 10/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In Greek Mythology the Elysian Fields is the place where "the blessed" lived after death. In George Hickenlooper's film, "The Man from Elysian Fields" (Mick Jagger as Luther Fox) is an escort service owner who promises and I would assume delivers rich women to a place as blissful and full of happiness as said Elysian Fields.
Enter Byron Tiller (Andy Garcia) struggling writer, at the end of his rope financially and with a wife (Juliana Maguiles) and a child to support. Luther offers Byron the chance to make great money by escorting rich women. One of the women Byron escorts is Andrea Alcott (Olivia Williams) wife of a very famous and prolific author, Tobias Alcott. Tobias (James Coburn), in his 70's and very ill asks Byron to help him co-author a novel and Byron jumps at, what he feels will be, the chance of a professional lifetime. The only catch is Byron must continue to "date" Andrea and thus sets the scene for Byron's downfall both professional and personal.
Byron Tiller, as played by Andy Garcia, is a tormented, fragmented yet proud man: he does not like what he has to do in order to care for his family yet he feels he has no other opportunities available to him. Garcia plays Tiller with the same intensity and vulnerability that he exhibited in "When a Man Loves a Woman." In a way, he grows to love Andrea but knows it is wrong for he truly loves his wife. He flings himself headfirst into the co-authoring project yet he knows it takes him away from his wife and child who need more than just the money he gives them to live on. His ego supplants his common sense and he ultimately has to pay the consequences. Garcia does a masterful job making Byron's personal and professional conflicts real and understandable.
Olivia Williams, so good in "The Sixth Sense" plays Andrea Tobias very quietly with all her feelings and emotions intact. She is fascinating to watch. Watch her eyes and body language in the final scene with Byron. It's classic movie acting. Juliana Marguiles, James Coburn and Mick Jagger do excellent work also.
In many ways, "The Man from Elysian Fields" is like the very old Faust legend: the man who sells his soul to the devil for riches and success. And like Faust, Byron Tiller must also pay for his success with the things he holds most dear."
Sirens of success, ghosts of failure
Christopher Fung | honolulu | 12/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't go to this movie expecting that much, but I got a very nice surprise. George Hickenlooper's movie has some marvellously deft touchs which are only occasionally marred by heavy-handed directing.This movie is about sex and creativity and commerce. It's also about dealing with failure and while younger people may not feel like this is a particularly useful thing to comtemplate, most of us on the other side of J. Lo will recognize something of Byron Tiller, here played extremely well by Andy Garcia, in our own pasts (and one hopes, inshallah not our presents). Byron is a writer whose initial critical success is met with stunning commercial failure. There follows a long slow spiral into a creative desert where, shut out by the business-people who actually run the show, Byron is tempted (like St. Anthony in the Hieronymous Bosch painting) by a saturnine and suitably time-worn procureur, Luther Fox (played to a T by Mick Jagger). Fox offers Byron a way to make some money, and more importantly get closer to the creative action by providing intimate services to Andrea (Olivia Williams), the wife of a famous and eminently well-published novelist Tobias Alcott (James Coburn).Left to pick up after the emotional trainwreck is Byron's wife (Julianne Margulies) and Byron himself. The most effective parts of the movie are those which deal with the destructiveness of pride (or its second cousin, desire for success), the seductiveness of art and the way in which many many of us labor under the fear that we are not nearly as good as others think we are and that failure is just around the corner.Certainly this movie is a riff on Faust but one where willfull blindness plays an overwhelming role. And here one is confronted with what seems initially to be the biggest logical holes in the script: How can Jagger's louchly polished Fox still have illusions of emotional intimacy with his long-time trick, Jennifer (easily and finely played by Anjelica Huston)? How can an experienced writer like Byron NOT insist on a contract with Alcott when the two (in one of the movie's more predictable but nicely performed turns) decide to co-author Alcott's final novel? Still, the fact that in real life, otherwise intelligent people get conned all the time suggests that reality is much closer to the world that Hickenlooper brings to life so deftly than most of us would like to think. In fact, con men (like advertisers) know that the way to pull off a con is to promise the mark something that he or she already desires (the illusion of being inside the loop, the illusion of illicit gain, the illusion of imminent success) and Hickenlooper -and Olivia Williams' deliciously Macchiavellian Andrea know this too.We're left to wonder at the self-deludedness of both Fox and Byron both of whose faces crumble heart-breakingly as they realize the scams that they have led themselves into. I'm reminded here of the work of a couple of colleagues of mine who have worked with female sex workers and their male clients. What my colleagues report is that the men almost invariably cast their relationships with the prostitutes in other than economic terms, -for the men, it's about lust or virility or even companionship, or emotional attachment- while the women have no such illusions.Some of the best dramatic work in this movie comes from the interactions (always short, interestingly) between Garcia and Margulies and between Garcia and Jagger. The cameos with Huston and Jagger were gems also but lacked (as indeed they perhaps should have done) the intensity of the other interactions. Jagger in particular deserves a great deal of praise for his performance here, it is a delight to watch, and his role as interlocuter via voice over is handled well too. One gets the feeling that this a very good British movie in some ways which is certainly a point in its favor.Indeed, this movie would have been one of the most thought-provoking movies of the year for me if the ideas behind the movie had not been overwhelmed in places by hysterica; action: Byron ransacking the escorts' dressing room was one of these (does the red-blooded American male have to attack the furniture in order to show frustration or rage?), as was the contrived chance encounter between Byron and his wife in the hotel.Nevertheless, we can forgive Hickenlooper's hinting at a hopeful ending to Byron's story, even as it recycles the strange Protestant idea that suffering will lead a person of genius to creativity and thus redemption. Movies that have the courage to even creep close to the abyss of fear and failure that we older folk know is out there, deserve a certain amount of forgiveness for their sins and appreciation of their good points -at least in my book."
Andy Garcia is great in this terrific film
fungshing | Hong Kong | 03/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have the chance to see this film in a cinema in Hong Kong. This film is so good that I am going to buy the DVD. Andy Garcia is truly a terrifc actor and he brings Bryon (his character in this film) to live. The other actors like James Coburn, Olivia Williams and Mick Jagger (yes he can act) in this film is excellent too. A good story, beautiful cinematography, well written dialogue, excellent acting make this film very enjoyable. Too bad, this film did not get the attention it deserves. So, I strongly recommend this DVD to everyone who missed it in the cinemas."
One of my favorite movies now
chauncey | New York, NY | 09/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a finely cast film with some terrific performances by the late James Coburn, Angelica Huston, and Mick Jagger. This is a stellar film. The plot is interesting and challenging, and the main character, played by Andy Garcia, is believable and really gives you a good look at the what if's given this kind of situation and really makes you ask what would you do.The plot is simple. Good-looking, former ad agency hotshot turned writer, appropriately named Byron (Andy Garcia), has written and published his first book that, despite warm reviews, has ended up as a remainder. His second book has been rejected by his publisher. His supportive, stay at home wife, Dena (Juliana Margulies), and young child need him to bring home the bacon, so what is an aspiring young writer to do? He turns to a male escort service that has an office in the same building in which Byron has an office that he uses for his writing. Right away the film is engaging.This escort service is deliciously run by Luthor Fox, which Faustian role is played with silken, Machiavellian overtones by Mick Jagger due to a bit of inspired casting. Luthor himself still dabbles in the field by servicing Jennifer, one of his original clients, played with sophisticated finesse by Angelica Huston. Byron is initially reluctant to do this sort of work, because he does love his wife, and because he seems to have some moral scruples.Fortuitously for him, Byron's first assignment is to escort a coldly beautiful, young woman named Andrea, played with icy hauteur by the lovely Olivia Williams. Andrea just happens to be married to aging Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, Tobias Alcott (James Coburn). Before Byron knows it, his moral scruples are blowing in the wind. It turns out that this assignment has him servicing both the Alcotts in ways he could never have imagined. Of course, his pact with the Alcotts has its short lived financial rewards, but its long term impact on his marriage, his writing career, and his psyche is another matter.There are some juicy and memorable moments in the film. Tobias Alcott has a knack for entering his wife's room to chat, at just precisely the wrong moment. When Luthor decides to take his business arrangement with Jennifer to a new level, he gets an ego shattering surprise that has some cinematic interest. The scene at the end, when Byron realizes just where his pact with the Alcotts has led him, causing him to indulge in an act of vandalism is just what you think you would do if you were in his shoes. Byron gets an advance on the book he is writing with famous author and gets a new house. Byron's disinclination to get a "respectable" job feeds the motivation to getting a job with the escort service as a last resort. His verbal pact with the crusty Tobias, regarding a collaborative writing effort leads you to believe he's gotten an advance from him and a sound basis for Byron getting a new house in a more upscale neighborhood and doing scads of shopping with Dena. Byron comes across as a guy down on his luck but very compassionate and therefore sympathetic. The character of Dena is very realistic, as Ms. Margulies is the sweetly trusting and supporting wife as some women can be because they want to believe the best about their husbands.This film was very enjoyable, and personal to me. There was stellar performances from Mick Jagger, James Coburn, and Angelica Huston. Andy Garcia and Juliana Margulies are amazing in their roles, while Olivia Williams manages to hold her own in a challenged role. The movie builds the characters strongly and you are right there with them when they have to make their choices sitting on the edge of your seat, talking to the TV and crying along with the consequences and having so much hope for the characters. Not too often does a movie come along where I am actually caring for the roles. I highly recommend this film."
D. Mikels | Skunk Holler | 08/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well, let's see. When his first novel (entitled "Hitler's Child") fails to generate sales and his publisher refuses to print his second book, what is a starving writer to do?Work for a male escort service, of course!As goofy as this premise is, THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS actually delivers a compelling story that is both fun and painful to watch. Unable to get his old job back and desperately strapped for cash, hard luck novelist Byron Tiller (Andy Garcia) is lured by the seductive enticement of "easy money" as an escort for Elysian Fields, a playground for rich, neglected housewives. Problem is, there's nothing "easy" about Byron's new career, and this character learns lesson after lesson--about himself, about the importance of his marriage--via a very unforgiving school of hard knocks.The tragic irony of this film manifests itself over and over. By trying to provide for and protect his family, Byron's poor decision to join Elysian only serves to destroy it. And naturally--irony of ironies--Byron's best client is the exotic, beautiful Andrea Alcott (Olivia Williams), who just happens to be married to Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Tobias Alcott (played wonderfully by James Coburn). The ailing Tobias seeks Byron's aid to rewrite his last novel; the young writer eagerly agrees; the stage is set for dismal, heartbreaking disappointment (should have insisted on a written contract, dude). Garcia is so soft-spoken and restrained in this role, even after getting knocked down again and again, that I--unlike some of the reviewers here--actually was relieved when he finally unleashed some anger and frustration by trashing the wardrobe room at Elysian Fields. I'll bet the character felt better; I know I did.Mick Jagger as the articulate, whiskey-sipping proprietor of Elysian Fields was an unexpected and delightful surprise. The ending was a bit uneven and sappy, but entirely predictable. For all you struggling writers out there, I would recommend you forego becoming an escort and pick something safer. Sword swallowing comes to mind.