Rated 3.0

Maybe only Philip Roth can write a blow-job scene so literarily essential that its absence from a movie adaptation of his book must be pointed out and lamented. The book is called The Dying Animal, the movie is called Elegy, and the difference between those titles says everything. It’s in that faintly defensive declaration of tastefulness—the glassy surfaces soberly photographed, the Erik Satie Gnossiennes on the soundtrack—that the movie forfeits its source’s gnashing confessional insights on sex and death. You’d think screenwriter Nicholas Meyer would know better—not because Meyer also adapted Roth’s novel The Human Stain, but because he made Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, still the best and lustiest outing in that franchise; surely the guy who gave us a hyperliterate, open-shirted Ricardo Montalban for the ages should know his way into the literary-minded libido of a self-important breast fetishist.