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Disgrace (2008)

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After having an affair with a student, a Cape Town professor moves to the Eastern Cape, where he gets caught up in a mess of post-apartheid politics.


Steve Jacobs


J.M. Coetzee (novel), Anna Maria Monticelli (screenplay)
5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Malkovich ... Professor David Lurie
Jessica Haines Jessica Haines ... Lucy Lurie
Eriq Ebouaney ... Petrus
Fiona Press ... Bev Shaw
Antoinette Engel Antoinette Engel ... Melanie Isaacs
Natalie Becker ... Soraya
Antonio Fisher Antonio Fisher ... Sidney - Student
Isabella De Villiers Isabella De Villiers ... Mrs. Cundell - Student
Cindy Mkaza Cindy Mkaza ... Mrs. Mbeti - Student
Liezel De Kock Liezel De Kock ... Student Director
Charles Tertiens Charles Tertiens ... Ryan
David Dennis David Dennis ... Mr. Isaacs (as David Denis)
Paula Arundell Paula Arundell ... Dr Farodia Rassool
Anne Looby Anne Looby ... Rosalind
David Ritchie David Ritchie ... Manas Mathbane


Cape Town professor David Lurie blatantly refuses to defend himself for an affair with a colored student whom he gave a passing grade for an exam she didn't even attend. Dismissed, he moves to his daughter Lucy's farm, which she runs under most disadvantaged terms, favoring the black locals. Yet rowdies, unprovoked, violently rob and abuse them both. Lucy refuses to fight back, unlike David, who is surprised by his own altruistic potential. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He is what he calls himself, a monster. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, nudity, some violence and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



Australia | South Africa


English | Xhosa | Afrikaans | Zulu

Release Date:

18 June 2009 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Desgracia See more »

Filming Locations:

South Africa See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,615, 20 September 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$66,643, 4 October 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film was financed by the Film Finance Corporation Australia, Newbridge Film Capital, Whitest Pouring Films, the New South Wales Film and Television Office and the South Australian Film Corporation. See more »


When David confronts Lucy at the impound yard, he pulls her left arm away from the steering wheel. In the next shot, it has returned. See more »


[first lines]
Professor David Lurie: I haven't heard from my daughter.
Soraya: Still living with a woman.
Professor David Lurie: Yes, still a lesbian. Still on the farm. She thinks it's safe there.
Soraya: No where's safe. Too many people with nothing to do but cause trouble. How's work?
Professor David Lurie: They look through me when I speak. Forget my name.
Soraya: There's no respect anymore. Have you missed me?
Professor David Lurie: I miss you all the time.
See more »


References Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) See more »


Written by Sihlanu Gojo
Performed by Thandabantu
See more »

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User Reviews

Being John Malkovich...
1 October 2012 | by tim-764-291856See all my reviews

Being John Malkovich means you can make this sort of fairly unpleasant and often disturbing dark tale into both an actor's piece and a reasonably good movie, from what is a bit of a dog's ear, which I saw on BBC1.

Few do contemptible sneering the way that Malkovich can and as in his best roles, he's a suitably complex nasty piece of work, emotionally shallow and morally drowning, we see him fall from what grace he had - and into the disgrace of the title.

Set in post Apartheid South Africa, the location is unusual as are the economic and political set-ups, creating an intriguing if beguiling premise. It's based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by J M Coetzee and ably directed by Steve Jacobs, of which this is his second only feature.

After the suicide of the young female mixed-race student, who had had a sexual relationship with white university lecturer David Lurie (Malkovich), the English professor is sacked. Finding he has no option, he goes to live with his lesbian daughter on a remote farm in the bush. Both willing to fit in and help to protect his own interests Lurie tries to accept both his fate and the set-up he has to tolerate, while the ever presence of black odd-job worker Petrus (Eriq Ebouaney) both irritates and underscores the whole black/white power struggle that resonates throughout the film.

Just as the film settles, some very nasty things happen and these are, frankly, unpleasant and difficult to sit through, with no restraints on graphic details. He's set on fire, pet dogs slaughtered and a rape. All done by black youths, seemingly on a whim.

Get past these though and the you will be rewarded; not in a film of great triumph and people changed and redeemed, riding off into the sunset but a slow realisation that life is just that and one has to admit personal shortfalls and to live with that. Disgrace is a fairly memorable film (maybe some of the parts more than the whole) but isn't one I particularly wish to see again, so the DVD won't be on my Christmas wish-list. For those who like and appreciate a challenging, well acted and modern human drama, it has a lot going for it.

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