The Man From Elysian Fields
starring Andy Garcia, James Coburn, Mick Jagger, Julianna Margulies, Olivia Williams and Anjelica Huston
written by Philip Jayson Lasker
directed by George Hickenlooper
This is only the second time I have seen Rolling Stones lead man Mick Jagger in a movie. The first time was in a waste of celluloid called “Freejack” (with Emlio Estevez and Anthony Hopkins) - some kind of science fiction film that I never understood. But Mick looks really cool and does pretty well as the operator of a male escort service in Pasadena, California in The Man From Elysian Fields, I thought. When I first saw his picture on the video box in my local video rental shop I thought it was Willem Dafoe. Maybe there is a future role for Dafoe as Mick Jagger in a biography film.
Andy Garcia is Byron Tiller, a (very) struggling writer who hates what he has to do to support his family. He cannot sell his manuscripts, and in desperation goes to work for Elysian Fields after finding Luther Fox’s (Mick Jagger’s) ear very receptive to his woes in a bar. There is a squeamish evolution here where, at first, Byron doesn’t know what the business is. Then he understands what it is but is repelled out of devotion and love of his wife and young son. But then he overcomes his squeamishness out of devotion and love of his wife and young son. He knows the risks he is running, but his success helps him believe his own lies to make it easier. But when his wife learns what he is doing at nights when he goes to his “editor’s meetings”she doesn’t see it quite the same way. Aren’t women always like that?
Byron is handsome, well-educated and compassionate, which suit him for the work. But it is kind of a deal with the devil because he ends up selling his life - the family he loves - to collaborate on a novel written by Tobias Allcott (James Coburn) the famous author husband of one of his clients. He is promised co-authorship and a cut of the royalties - which will make his career as an author - but that agreement is only verbal and after Allcott’s death his wife cheats Byron out of his expected reward in the name of protecting her husband’s reputation.
Why does he do it? Economic desperation, yes. But it is more than that. His crisis of vocation drives Byron into commercial sex, which is the last refuge of men who feel impotent.
I thought that the animated Pixar movie, Monsters, Inc., was the last film project that James Coburn worked on before his death. That, or Snow Dogs, co-starring Cuba Gooding. But I suppose I was wrong. I guess this was his final movie. He did good.