The Man From Elysian Fields (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Man from Elysian Fields has a ludicrous fairy-tale premise. Andy Garcia plays a writer who can no longer support his young family, so he takes a job as a male escort in a group run by an elegant Englishman (Mick Jagger !!??). Garcia's first significant client happens to be the wife of a dying Pulitzer Prize winner, kind of a latter-day Hemingway (played by James Coburn). As Hollywood would have it, Coburn Hemingway has been working on a novel for 12 years, and it completely stinks. He invites Andy Garcia to read it, react to it, and eventually to help him re-write it. Oh, yeah, and Garcia has to screw Coburn's beautiful young wife (Olivia Williams) as well.

Yeah that could happen.

At any rate, Garcia gets so involved in the life of Coburn Hemingway that he forgets why he took the escort job in the first place, and starts ignoring his family.



DVD info from Amazon

  • Commentary by director George Hickenlooper, writer Philip Jayson Lasker, and actor Andy Garcia

  • Making-of featurette

  • Deleted scenes

  • Outtakes

  • Music video

  • Widescreen anamorphic format, 1.85:1

I know that sounds contrived, but this is a genuinely good movie. The performances are first-rate. Garcia, Coburn and even Jagger are all suprisingly restrained, and do a terrific job. They are ably supported by Julianna Margulies as Garcia's suffering wife and Olivia Williams as Coburn's slippery wife. The script is literate and complex, has some surprising plot twists, and some clever dialogue. The Garcia character is the "star", and he is a sensitive guy, but he is also a very weak person who can never seem to do either the right thing or the smart thing. In fact, none of the characters (except maybe Margulies) are very good or very bad, and are thus very much like the rest of us.

Because of the honest, complex characterizations and sparkling dialogue, the movie manages to overcome its silly premise and deliver some very good moments.

The Critics Vote

  • No consensus: widely divergent scores, averaging about three stars. For example, Ebert 4/4, but Entertainment Weekly only a C

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It never reached more than 50 screens, and finished with about a million and a half dollars.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. I liked it better than that, but I guess its non-existent box office appeal refutes any argument I could offer about crossover appeal.  Ignore the premise. It is a strong niche offering if you like quiet, thoughtful, literate movies

Return to the Movie House home page