Casting Andy Garcia as a failed novelist-turned-tuxedo-clad escort isn’t the best way to sell a movie. While Garcia is good at playing the sad sack, there’s absolutely zero about him that says “sex for hire.” When his Byron Tiller beds Olivia Williams’ Andrea Allcott in The Man From Elysian Fields, it’s hard to imagine why a beautiful woman would pay to give a guy a pity fuck. (Every night I dream that Garcia and Andie MacDowell, his female counterpart in grating mediocrity, are forced to marry and banished to Mars, without oxygen tanks; this has yet to actually happen, but I continue to hope.)
Tiller is the kind of exquisitely pathetic failure that hangs around bookstores anonymously encouraging customers to buy his novel, only to be outed in his ruse by the photo on the back of the book jacket. His wife (Julianna Margulies) believes everything he writes is brilliant; his editor says his new draft sucks. What’s a hack to do?
The opportunity to salvage his finances arrives via Luther Fox (Mick Jagger), whose company, Elysian Fields, occupies an office down the hall from Tiller’s writer’s nest. Fox turns out to be a pimp of sorts, recruiting Tiller for the escort service, promising him that it’s much less intimidating to a middle-class romantic than it sounds. After taking stock of the empty state of his pockets, Tiller agrees, and enters the world of high-class whoredom via the gateway that is the Elysian Fields black tie-laden locker room.
Tiller’s ongoing client is Allcott, who in a shocking turn of events turns out to be married to a Pulitzer Prize-winning author (James Coburn) named Tobias, who is terminally ill. (Judging from the amount of time he spends wearing sweatpants, Tobias invested his writerly fortune in a sportswear company.) Success and Failure co-author a book, while Failure neglects his adoring wife and sleeps with Success’, and the three create a freakish pseudo-family.
Jagger is the only thing truly worth watching in this slow-paced film, but even he seems to sag under the weight of the knowledge that he deserves better. He does look smart in his suits, though — here’s hoping that he soon gets a film worthy of his wardrobe.
Opens Friday exclusively at the Maple Art Theatre (4135 W. Maple, W of Telegraph). Call 248-542-0180.
Erin Podolsky writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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