David Lurie (played by John Malkovich) is a professor who teaches poetry at a university in Cape Town, South Africa. He is divorced, lives alone and is apparently friendless. He displays an air of aloofness and this doesn’t help with the way he is regarded by his academic colleagues. When he is exposed as having a relationship with one of his students, Melanie (played by Antoinette Engel) and then admits to the forgery of a pass mark for a test she didn’t take, there is no mercy for him at his workplace. He is disgraced and is forced to resign his position. He leaves town and goes to visit his lesbian daughter, Lucy (by Jessica Haines) who lives on a remote farm. The environment is stark, unwelcoming and totally barren of emotion – as are most of David’s relationships. He stays with his daughter for several weeks and begins to make a life for himself there, then a violent incident occurs that changes his life forever.
This movie is an adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s powerful Booker Prize-winning novel. The movie is dramatic and John Malkovich’s performance is excellent. Jessica Haines is magnificent as Lucy and she commands just as much screen respect as Malkovich does. They are a good balance – this is a good, dramatic movie.