With THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS, Andy Garcia was both the star and one of the producers. Like many actors looking to stretch themselves professionally and creatively, he founded his own production company (CineSon) to make films that he cares about passionately. And it quickly becomes apparent when talking with Garcia that passion is definitely something that drives him. We spoke late in the afternoon on September 25, 2002, even though he had been filming Philip Kaufman’s BLACKOUT at 5:30 that morning. Pausing only to fuel his energy with quick bites of pasta between thoughts, he launched into a wide-ranging discussion about the aesthetics of filmmaking.
The thing to remember while watching THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS is that this is a parable. It’s relationship to the real world is symbolic, hence a male escort service named after the classical Greek take on the afterlife, and a writer who thinks that there is a place for his literate prose in a world where Danielle Steele is a gazillionare.
The writer would be Byron Tiller, played by the films co-producer, Andy Garcia. When we meet him, he’s pondering his life and his empty bank account while trying to drum up a sale for his novel, which resides on the remaindered table at a fashionable bookstore in Pasadena. He’s barking up the wrong tree, but Byron’s great talent may not be his prose, but his inability to see things clearly. It’s a failing he shares with his wife, who loves him unconditionally and who quotes his rave reviews as part of their foreplay.
Byron’s capacity for self-delusion will have people arguing about the right and wrong of what he does in the course of THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS. This might just be the most intriguing date movie since INDECENT PROPOSAL.