John Malkovich is wonderful in many of his roles, but in Disgrace, the shamefully overlooked, pitch-perfect 2008 adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize–winning novel, he is a perfect and powerful fit.
Malkovich plays an English professor at a university in Cape Town who is asked to resign after an affair with one of his students. Estranged from the community yet unrepentant, he goes to live with his daughter on her farm in rural South Africa, where his brutal ideas about the exercise of desire are violently tested. Disgrace subtly captures the potency of the novel: Its shots are slow, its plot meandering, its images beautiful and its implications complex. Most affecting, however, is Malkovich, who creates a character both fascinating and infuriating—a man whose feelings are difficult to sympathize with, but even harder to dismiss.
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