Disgrace (film)

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Disgrace title.jpg
Directed by Steve Jacobs
Produced by Steve Jacobs
Anna Maria Monticelli
Emile Sherman
Screenplay by Anna Maria Monticelli
Based on Disgrace 
by J. M. Coetzee
Starring John Malkovich
Jessica Haines
Eriq Ebouaney
Music by Antony Partos
Cinematography Steve Arnold
Edited by Alexandre de Franceschi
Release dates
  • 6 September 2008 (2008-09-06) (TIFF)
  • 8 June 2009 (2009-06-08) (Australia)
Running time
120 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Box office $2,122,574

Disgrace is a 2008 Australian film[1] based on J. M. Coetzee's novel of the same name. It was adapted for the screen by Anna Maria Monticelli and directed by her husband Steve Jacobs.[2] Starring American actor John Malkovich and South African newcomer Jessica Haines,[3] it tells the story of a South African university professor in the post-apartheid era who moves to his daughter's Eastern Cape farm when his affair with a student costs him his position. It received generally positive reviews.

Plot summary[edit]

David Lurie (John Malkovich) is an ageing white professor teaching Romantic literature at an unnamed university in Cape Town shortly after the end of apartheid. David rapes one of his students, Melanie Isaacs (Antoinette Engel). University officials learn of the incident and bring David before a disciplinary board. David's colleagues offer him a quiet exit to save face, but he brashly affirms his guilt and refuses to admit wrongdoing, forcing the board to punish him more harshly.

David takes refuge with his daughter, Lucy (Jessica Haines), who owns a farm in the Eastern Cape. At first the two experience harmony and Lurie finds peace with himself, though he grows suspicious of Lucy's farm manager, Petrus (Eriq Ebouaney). One day, David and Lucy are attacked by three men, who rape Lucy. David goes through a crisis, not knowing how to cope with his personal and family tragedies. He is also confused by the newfound guilt he suddenly feels about these rapes. In a movement toward penance, David goes back to his former student's home to beg for forgiveness from her and her family.



The film premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival,[4] where it was awarded the Prize of the International Critics.[5]

It received generally positive reviews in the media. For example The Washington Post concluded that "Like the novel, the film goes where it must, not where the dictates of off-the-rack narrative compel it. Jacobs has made some smart choices, including tucking the novel's last scene into the body of the film, lessening its inevitable bathos if taken straight from page to screen. The anguishing confrontations between David and Lucy, David and the family of the woman he has wronged, David and Lucy's neighbors, and ultimately, between David and the reality of a modern South Africa, are as powerful here as in the book." [6]

The film had an 82% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 57 votes. The critical consensus states that "Featuring outstanding performances from John Malkovich and newcomer Jessica Haines, Disgrace is a disturbing, powerful drama." The film holds an average score of 71/100 at Metacritic.[7][8] It grossed $1,166,294 at the box office in Australia,[9] and $2,122,574 worldwide.[10]


  1. ^ Siemienowicz, Rochelle (June 2009). "Adapting Disgrace: An interview with screenwriter and producer Anna-Maria Monticelli". Australian Film Institute. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Schwartzkoff, Louise (16 August 2008). "Actress lauded for film of Coetzee's Disgrace". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 10. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Cole, Barbara (31 July 2009). "Movie stardom beckons Haines". Daily News. p. 5. 
  4. ^ "Disgrace, Miracle at St. Anna to premiere at Toronto film fest". CBC News. 2 July 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (15 November 2008). "Awards put the wrap on Toronto Film Festival". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  6. ^ Kennicott, Philip (2 October 2009). "Movie Review: Film Version of J.M. Coetzee's 'Disgrace' Lives Up to Its Source". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 November 2015. 
  7. ^ "Disgrace". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  8. ^ "Disgrace Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  9. ^ Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  10. ^ "Disgrace (2009)—Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 

External links[edit]