- 2 hr
Based on the award-winning novel by J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace is a powerful and thought-provoking drama set in post-apartheid South Africa. Directed by Steve Jacobs and starring John Malkovich, Natalie Becker, and Jessica Haines, the film tells the story of a middle-aged professor named David Lurie who experiences a profound moral and existential crisis after he begins an affair with one of his students.
Lurie is a respected academic who teaches Romantic poetry at a university in Cape Town. He is divorced and estranged from his daughter, and seems to live a life of quiet isolation, immersed in books and ideas. But his comfortable existence is suddenly disrupted when he becomes involved with a young woman named Melanie Isaacs, who is half his age and one of his students.
Despite their age difference and the clear imbalance of power in their relationship, Lurie is drawn to Melanie's physical beauty and youthful energy, and the two begin a passionate affair. But their relationship is soon discovered by the university administration, and Lurie is forced to resign in disgrace.
With nowhere else to turn, Lurie goes to live with his daughter Lucy, who lives on a remote farm in the Eastern Cape. But even here, he finds no respite from his troubles. The farm is isolated and impoverished, and Lucy is constantly under threat from the violent and lawless gangs that roam the countryside. Frustrated and powerless, Lurie begins to question everything he thought he believed in.
As the film unfolds, we see Lurie struggling to come to terms with his own moral failings, and with the larger social and political realities of South Africa in the post-apartheid era. Through his encounters with Lucy's black farmhand Petrus, and with Lucy's lesbian friend Bev Shaw, Lurie begins to confront his own racism and privilege, and to acknowledge the complex legacies of colonialism and oppression that shape the country around him.
Disgrace is a haunting and beautifully crafted film that offers a searing critique of South African society and of the self-delusions that can lead us astray. Malkovich gives a mesmerizing performance as Lurie, who is both sympathetic and deeply flawed, while Haines and Becker bring nuance and complexity to their roles as Lucy and Melanie respectively. Together, they create a richly textured portrait of a country struggling to come to terms with its history and its present, and of a man struggling to find his place in a rapidly changing world.
Disgrace is a 2008 drama with a runtime of 2 hours. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.5 and a MetaScore of 71.