Friday, July 4, 2008

From the Library: Enduring Love

Occasionally I will be reviewing films from my DVD library. This--is the first.

'Enduring Love' is one of those movies that will stay with you long after the credits finish rolling. This is in large part thanks, no doubt, to Ian McEwan, the author of the book from which this film is adapted. Anyone familiar with McEwan's work recognizes the power of his written word. His book 'Atonement' also inspired the 2007 Oscar contender. Scriptwriter Joe Penhall (who wrote the script for this fall's much anticipated 'The Road) is credited with 'Enduring Love's' adaptation.

'Love' is directed by Roger Michell (The Mother, Notting Hill) and was released in 2004. He wastes no time showing is talent at creating raw energy and suspense. In the first scene of the film, a quiet meadow is disturbed by a hot air balloon with two passengers ripping through out of control. The only witnesses (including Joe, played by Daniel Craig, and Jed, played by Rhys Ifan) rush to the aid of these two, attempting to pull the balloon down to safety. Just as the task is almost accomplished, a burst of air takes sends the balloon airborne again. The group of men hanging on to the basket hang on as long as they can, but each drops to the ground as they raise higher and higher. All, except one man, who clings on as they float higher and higher. Eventually he drops from a terrific height to a gruesome death.

It's from this magnificently shot scene that the movie starts its story line. You see, Jed feels that he and Joe share an intense, personal, and erotic bond having shared this horrible experience. He quickly shows signs of obsession, showing up in Joe's life in all the strangest places. He insinuates himself deeper and deeper into Joe's life, bit by bit, showing up at odd moments and then shadowing him with a persistent desperation Joe cannot understand or escape.

The film is shot beautifully. It's worth the price of a rental if only for the opening sequence. Daniel Craig performs solidly along side Bill Nighy (who, despite his small role, can't help but steal the scenes he's in) Joe's girlfriend Claire, played by Samantha Morton, is just as entertaining to watch. However, none of these performances compare to the disturbing portrayal of Jed by Rhys Ifan. It's been a long time since I've been so creeped out by character in a film. The subtleties of his performance will haunt you.

Admittedly, the film loses control of itself as it goes along. It seems that during the last 20 minutes, somebody decided to just stop trying and resort to a level that insults the intelligence of the rest of the film. All in all, the film has some strikingly beautiful moments and certainly deserves at least one viewing.

Rated R for language, some violence and a disturbing image.

Rottentomatoes: 59% -- Cream of the Crop: 58%


Ira said...

Ты чудесный кинокритик. Я тебе говорила? И не раз, наверное.

p.s. И не потому что ты попросил, а потому что я do care.

Amber & Che' said...

Hey Blake, yeah we have a blog, well I do the blog not che but it's OUR blog. Um Brady went to high school with me. He was a year older. And I worked at Carinos with his wife courtney. Anyway, hope all is well, thanks for comment. YOu are now officially on my friends list! Have a good one!

The Mad Hatter said...

Welcome to the L.A.M.B!

Great review - I saw this movie at The Toronto International Film Festival a few years back, and it totally *wasn't* what I was expecting.

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