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2 reviews, 7 user ratings

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Enduring Love
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by Erik Childress

"Close Encounters of the Turd Kind"
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Here is a film that opens with a sequence full of bravery, altruism and terror. So eye-opening with its attitude of teamwork and shocking with its price of selflessness that you can feel its shadow already encapsulating everything thatís going to come afterwards. Weíre consumed by it and afraid for what it may do to its participants and where weíre headed with them next. Well, be afraid. Be very afraid. Because after this event that plateaus us, the film will slowly squander our expectations from unique spirituality to another tale of blind obsession before revealing itself as little more than a same-sex stalker tale which doesnít come close to communicating that its about anything more.

On a romantic picnic getaway, Joe (Daniel Craig) and Claire (Samantha Morton) are interrupted by the arrival of a low-flying hot-air balloon. A young boy stands in the basket, helpless at the whim of this runaway contraption. Joe and a group of other bystanders do their best to bring down the balloon, but a fateful gust of wind forces them to make a choice between their own lives and that of the boy. The sequence is exhilarating and so horrific you may immediately find yourself internally shouting directions to the participants.

A tragedy does ensue and forces Joe to rethink his actions in the moment of desperation. Another named Jed (Rhys Ifans) prefers to pray at the scene, but would rather not do it alone, reluctantly forcing Joe to share this moment with the stranger. Time passes as Joe relegates into a Richard Dreyfuss-like obsession, complete with balloon shapes, over that day. And heís not the only one. Jed wants to meet up with him. Is he similiarly traumatized and needs someone who understands or is he just another new-age hippie Jesus freak trying to push his ideology on someone he believes is prime for conversion? Either way, he keeps calling and showing up closer than any restraining order would ever allow.

Jedís mysterioso routine starts off intriguingly enough with cryptic statements to Joe about knowing who he is. Could there be some suggestion that Joe is a form of the Messiah? Sounds a little too fantasized to shift into Tolkien Matrix territory. But at least that would have been something. Joe and Claire quickly begin to drift apart. If only Joe would have combined his balloon obsession with Mortonís round breasts, he could have had his pie and ate it too. But, alas, their relationship comes to a different head at a birthday supper of unspoken nuances leaving hope that director Roger Michell had his house in order.

Instead we continue to digress with Jed pursuing and Joe withdrawing. (Insert rabbit joke here.) The perfection of whatís unsaid at Joeís birthday becomes an aggravation with Jedís persistence of being seen but not heard. Maybe love is an unspoken art conquering all forms of sanity, but I donít know if itís particularly salient (or groundbreaking) to equate it with religion, homosexuality and mental illness.

Turning Jed from creepy stranger to reenacting a scene by Mark Wahlberg in Fear is hardly the path an intelligent story would have followed, particularly when confronted with eleven other paths. As a thriller it must resort to a shocking piece of violence to get its thrills. As a tale of unrequited love, it would be a lot less icky if both parties swung for the same fences. Never before in a film could one back up the suggestion that Samantha Morton is so completely wasted that she might as well have been playing the long-suffering wife in a cop-or-fireman drama.

No film I can recall ever went from the highest highs to the lowest lows in the course of 90 minutes than Enduring Love. The endless possibilities of a random event spinning off an alternate universe (or lifestyle) for a mere mortal are too stimulating to concentrate on more theatrical standards of manic obsession. Perhaps Ian McEwanís novel holds the key to what couldnít be translated; some glimmer into Jedís psyche that makes him richer than just another infatuated groupie whom should never be invited to any street celebration involving pride. Just like thereís none enduring what a stunning miscalculation this film is.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10458&reviewer=198
originally posted: 11/05/04 00:05:42
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/31/08 ben dover once again craig shows why he is such a great actor 4 stars
12/16/06 William Goss Remarkably dread-inducing drama grounded by an especially strong Daniel Craig. 4 stars
10/31/06 Matt okay, nothing special 3 stars
6/16/05 othree 28 Days feel, great components, lacking follow thru 3 stars
5/05/05 Littlepurch Sorry but this was terrible. Destroyed book, and jus plain borin. Acting was only gd point. 2 stars
11/14/04 LP1 Not bad. Considering the book was such a disappointment, I was pleased. 3 stars
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  29-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 03-May-2005



Directed by
  Roger Michell

Written by
  Joe Penhall

  Samantha Morton
  Susan Lynch
  Rhys Ifans
  Bill Nighy
  Daniel Craig
  Justin Salinger

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