The film is based on the Spanish novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (of the same title). The first time I saw the preview, there were several chuckles in the theatre at the title. While it is eventually explained in the story, the title itself is much like a rose, by any other name would still be the same. If you're looking for a thumbnail summary, think Romeo and Juliet minus our leading characters killing themselves in the name of love.
Florentino is a telegraph operator who delivers a telegraph one day to Urbino, and sees Fermina, Urbino's daughter, for the first time. Florentino instantly falls in love with her and begins to write her letters declaring his love and undying devotion. Dad Urbino isn't terribly keen on this, and despite Fermina getting caught up in the letters and agreeing to marry the telegraph operator, he moves away with Fermina in tow.
Florentino becomes deeply depressed, loses his virginity, and soon gets over his feeling of betraying Fermina (once he learns she's married). He elects instead to never give his heart away, but his body is free to give away again, again and again. (If you think "Lust, Caution" may not have warranted the NC-17 rating, you'd think that rating may have been considered here, given the number of love scenes in "Cholera.")
The film is being chided in reviews, and even amongst those walking out, largely for how some see the treatment of Florentino's conquests, or the cool nature of Fermina to other relationships. The balance to the comments -- which I'd agrees are fair observations -- is both are just as Marquez depicted them in the novel. This wasn't a case of Hollywood modifying the film to fit the mold, rather, the film faithfully was working to recreate the novel in live action. (That may be, at least in part, the result of three years of negotiations between producer Scott Steindorff and the author for Marquez to agree to the film being made.)
The director, producer and cast are all largely names I didn't recognize until I looked into their filmography, and even then, their roles in those films. That said, it was a top-notch performance by the cast, led by an able crew behind the camera. The story does have a tragic tone to it -- at times -- but ends well, by flying a Cholera flag (a yellow flag typically flown from ships to warn people away if the ships passengers were so infected) to ensure that last scene was left undisturbed.
Oscar-worthy? I'm on the fence on that one. Worth the $9.50? Yes.