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Greatest Written Films - Disgrace

Disgrace (2008)

Let’s get it straight. Disgrace is not a pleasurable experience. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching. More the contrary. The screenplay is based on the novel by J.M. Coetzee about the new South Africa (as it was when the novel was released in 1999) and how many, particularly white people were adapting to the changes after apartheid. And yet, it's not a political film. Its overtones are subtle. It’s easy to miss them, as the personal story of its characters draws you in. Its protagonist is David Laurie (John Malcovich) and his daughter Lucy (Jessica Haines). One represents the way things were and the other, his daughter, is trying her best to fit into the new mould.

David is a university professor whose brief affair with one of his students goes terribly wrong. He is exposed. And yet he makes no attempt to save himself, a sacrificial lamb to the greed of his own desires. He retreats to the Eastern Cape to spend time with his daughter, who is making the best of a changing political climate. it's filtering down to grass roots level. Perhaps it affects them the most. South Africa is still fraught with violence and few can escape its impact.

It's a rich film, with conflicting nuances. Sometimes right and wrong is all mixed up and it’s easy to get lost in the grey. Director Steve Jacobs and his writing/producing partner, Anna Maria Monticelli stay wide of the obvious, capturing the essence of the novel.

This film has been largely overlooked, a terrible mistake, perhaps because some of its themes aren’t so obvious, and daresay due in part to some of its disturbing scenes. John Malcovich gives one of his best performances, and that's saying something. We are used to seeing delicious tantrums from him, but here he is forced to hold back more than even his character wishes. He is forced to come to terms with his own failings and wonders how he can adapt and yet still live with himself. Not an easy film to endure but a must see.

For more on the novel and it’s author visit:

Disgrace at Rotten Tomatoes.

Coming next,
July is Novel Month,

A rundown on my six completed novels in reverse order.
The Sixth, Tru Luv Kills.

Hope to see you then.


  1. Great movie indeed! I just stopped by because I was wondering about you. Didn't get the mail for this one! Hope you and family are ok!

    Big hugs


  2. I haven't see it, but based on your review, I'm going to! thanks my friend!

  3. That's an excellent review, Anthony. Thanks.
    Be well.

  4. Thanks for the heads up on this movie.. I actually hadn't heard of it before reading about it here. Will add it to my list of movies to see! Cheers Anthony!

  5. You have a point when you say it's not a pleasurable experience and yet, you call it great. I don't think that the real pleasure in literature/storytelling resides into keeping the reader/viewer into his comfort zone. David Foster Wallace said a teacher told him once: "Literature comforts the distubed and disturbed the comfortable". He taught Coetzee in his classes.

  6. Thanks Arielle, we are all well.
    Thank you Pat, Robyn and Katherine. And cheers Ben. It's a challenging film, but it engages the mind and that can only be a good thing. I like films and literature that explores the more difficult subjects or tell us something about human nature. Plot based films have their place, but they are against nature. As in false.
    I didn't know Coetzee was a pupil of Wallace's. Very interesting. I don't know if I'll read DFW last book. I'm always skeptical of releases when the author didn't intend them to be released.


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