Film Reviews

ENDURING LOVE

By • Oct 29th, 2004 •

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Paramount Classics / Pathe Pictures in association with the U.K. Film Council and Film Four and Inside Track present a Free Range Film

QUOTE: Watch the first five minutes very carefully.

My husband has a stalker who currently lives across the country from us. He was throwing away her crazy postcards (there is even tiny writing around the stamps) and love letters until I retrieved them from the garbage. Unlike Madonna, Mel Gibson, Sheryl Crow (whom, her stalker said, telepathically agreed to marry him), and others plagued by stalkers, I decided not to ignore her. Is there a law against harassing a stalker? My husband’s stalker, who believes she is his wife, needs money for food and water, her eviction notice has been sent, and her cat is hungry.

I feel sorry for the cat.

I do not want to go to Stage 2 of my Torment-A-Stalker since it would mean removing the Black Curse I have placed on my sister. Since I have only been practicing brujeria for a few years, I can‘t maintain two curses at the same time. So, temporarily, in the jargon of Reality TV, my husband’s stalker has “immunity.”

How does a non-celebrity deal with a stalker?

Joe (Daniel Craig) is a London teacher and author who pontificates about the vagaries of love. He lives with sculptress Claire (Samantha Morton) but is reluctant to marry her. While his friends Robin (a sedate Bill Nighy) and Rachel (Susan Lynch) live in an idyllic country setting with children, infants and pets, Joe feels love is purely a biological instinct.

One afternoon, while having a picnic in Oxfordshire, Joe and Claire see an out-of-control hot-air balloon bounding around the field. A young boy is in the basket. Joe and a group of passers-by run to try to ground the balloon so the boy can get out safely. The men grab hold of the ropes around the basket. As the balloon ascends, one of the men lets go, then another.

One man holds on and falls to his horrible death. Joe and another man, Jed (Rhys Ifans), run to the man. Jed insists that Joe pray with him next to the mutilated man. Jed then starts following Joe around, certain that something mystical happened between them. Everywhere Joe goes he sees Jed.

Was Joe a coward for not holding on longer? Was he the first one to let go, forcing the others to follow suit? Is his cowardice linked to his fear of commitment to Claire? How will he get rid of Jed? Joe tries to reason with Jed, but then Jed tells Joe he is in love with him and Claire is in their way. He knows Joe feels the same way about him because he has been giving him the obvious signal – opening and closing the living room drapes. While Jed is clearly mentally ill, Joe’s fascination with love as a biological tool should make him more curious about Jed’s senseless love for him.

The balloon accident seems to have galvanized Joe. He is dealing with his own emotional inadequacies and Jed’s sudden appearance brings them all to the surface. Is he a hack academic? Why does Jed think Joe could be in love with him? Is Joe a latent homosexual? What was Jed doing in the park that day?

ENDURING LOVE takes a swift turn that is so unexpected that it leaves you replaying and re-thinking the entire film. What is not overtly laid out is subtlety expressed by Craig and Ifans. I’m not a fan of Ifans since I “endured” DENNY DECKCHAIR and VANITY FAIR, but he is perfect for the role of Jed. He’s got that zealot’s stare that makes crazy people so fascinating: They believe they are absolutely right. Craig gives Joe the inner complexities to allow the demons of the character to surface. As Jed starts to intrude further into his life, he starts to disintegrate and become irrational himself.

The director, Roger Michell, has an astute understanding of the material, and the homosexual subtext is an uncompromising surprise. Craig and Ifans are outstanding and ENDURING LOVE plays out like a wilder, gay FATAL ATTRACTION – but with a far more interesting resolution.

Advisory: Watch the beginning minutes carefully and stay until after the credits.


Cast:
Joe: Daniel Craig
Jed: Rhys Ifans
Claire: Samantha Morton
Robin: Bill Nighy
Rachel: Susan Lynch
Mrs. Logan: Helen McCrory
TV Producer: Andrew Lincoln
Professor: Corin Redgrave

Credits:
Director: Roger Michell
Writer: Joe Penhall
Based on the novel by: Ian McEwan
Producer: Kevin Loader
Executive producers: Francois Ivernel, Cameron McCracken, Duncan Reid, Tessa Ross
Director of photography: Haris Zambarloukos
Production designer: John-Paul Kelly
Music: Jeremy Sams
Costume designer: Natalie Ward
Editor: Nicolas Gaster

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