Enduring Love (UK ; 100 min.)

directed by: Roger Michell
starring: Daniel Craig; Samantha Morton; Rhys Ifans
Enduring Love
Michael says: "What could have been fascinating and unusual turned out to be fairly pedestrian, beautifully filmed, and occasionally over-the-top. ENDURING LOVE, based on the novel by Ian McEwan, was directed by Roger Michell, whose unusual career includes such films as PERSUASION, NOTTING HILL, CHANGING LANES, and THE MOTHER. Michell has a terrific eye for film. ENDURING LOVE opens with a devastating hot air balloon accident that is brilliant filmed. It truly feels as if you are right there, on a crisp, sunny, later afternoon, hanging from the basket of a hot air balloon. After that scintillating opening sequence, the bar is set high for a compelling story, that despite strong performances and unique visuals, devolves into a fairly pedestrian stalker film.

"Joe and Jed are strangers share a moment in the aftermath of a deadly accident. Joe is struggling to cope with a touch of guilt about the accident, with the help of his girlfriend Claire. When Jed turns up urging Joe to speak with him, something seems a little off. Joe tries to get on with his life, but his nagging guilt builds, and the constant reappearances of Jed, who pesters Joe with odd, sometimes intimate questions, starts to push him across the line of annoyance and obsession. His relationship with Claire suffers, his work as a professor suffers, his own thoughts and theories, upon which he based a popular book, grow confused. Joe is having a meltdown, and Jed is a persistent presence.

"Daniel Craig (who also starred in THE MOTHER) is a strong presence. His emotional swings, from competent intellectual and caring boyfriend, to a raving quasi-lunatic who can’t get anyone to believe him, are powerful and believable. Samantha Morton is good as the girlfriend, although she is not given all that much to do. Rhys Ifans is fine in the difficult role of Jed, who is a bit of a cipher for much of the film. Michell’s camerawork is terrific, with lots of scenes shot through glass or using reflections, time compressed and extended to various effect. Unfortunately, the score becomes a real problem. At one key emotional scene, the score spirals into such a manic crescendo, I was actually wincing, trying hard to ignore it as it spoiled a central moment of the film. To make matters worse, the piece is repeated over the closing credits… certainly not reminding the viewer of something good as they leave the theatre.

"As the film began, I was reminded of Peter Weir’s FEARLESS, one of my all time favorite films (which I was shocked to learn all five of the other people there have not seen!) about a man who survives and is changed by a horribly accident where he was one of the few survivors. I was waiting for a story that dealt guilt, religion, immortality… all issues that are flirted with for a moment… before being tossed aside to deal with the stalker issue. I was hoping Morton’s Claire would be a key to Joe’s salvation, as Isabella Rossellini is for Jeff Bridges in FEARLESS, however she ends up being… the girlfriend.

"So I have to say I was disappointed in ENDURING LOVE. I don’t think it was the director’s fault, other than thinking this would make a good film. He did what he could with the camera, and the actors, but unfortunately, the adaptation, or perhaps the source material itself, was not compelling enough for the screen. 3 cats"

Chris says: "So-so adaptation of a wicked good Ian McEwan novel. Starts off smashingly with an eerie, expertly-rendered balloon crash, then gradually devolves into a Hitchcock/De Palma imitation. McEwan's complex, purposely irritating narrative is a bit outlandish at times, but never as over-the-top or obvious as this screenplay suggests. Daniel Craig is fine as the lead, but Samantha Morton is given precious little to do and Rhys Ifans doesn't show any depth in the krrrrazy-person slot. As with the far superior LAWLESS HEART, Bill Nighy nearly walks away with the film in his few-and-far-between scenes. 2.5 cats"
Bruce says: "Film adaptations from literary sources are precarious ventures. Ian McEwan is universally acclaimed as one of the finest contemporary writers and his Cement Garden was a beautiful novel about orphaned children fending for themselves in a frightening adult world. The two older children struggle to keep authorities form taking the younger children away. The film adaptation, however, was a tale of teenage lust, not the story of incest as a means to create a family unit. One cannot imagine any author being pleased with such an unfortunate twisting of the written word. McEwan is listed as an Associate Producer of ENDURING LOVE and that may have given him some control over the final product or at least the screenplay. Not having read the novel I cannot attest to the film’s success in that regard.

"ENDURING LOVE begins with a disastrous event that shakes up the lives of those present. When a large hot air balloon accidentally ascends with a young boy it its basket, several passers-by try to help anchor it. As the balloon elevates pulling all the men upward, the men drop one by one to safety. One man hangs on determinedly and looses his grip when he reaches a deadly height.

"The survivors struggle with feelings of loss, guilt and inadequacy. One of them, a lost young man named Jed (Rhys Ifans)is convinced that the event has a larger significance. He believes that there is a bond of deep love between him and Joe (Daniel Craig), another man involved in the incident. Joe is a happily involved in a heterosexual relationship with Claire (Samantha Morton). Happily, that is, until he starts obsessing over his guilt feelings of being indirectly responsible for the death of another human being.

"Jed pursues Joe doggedly and at first Joe thinks he is merely a kook. Things take a more serious turn when Joe realizes he is being stalked. By this time he has alienated Claire with his obsessiveness. Claire thinks that Joe’s concerns about being stalked are an extension of his anxiety.

"At this point the film gets fairly creepy and loses its literary tone, switching from a vehicle exploring psychological paradigms to one settling for cheap thrills. The three leads do an excellent job of working with the material at hand but they simply cannot rise above the spiraling disintegration of the film’s mood.

"Several friends have suggested the film is homophobic. I do not think that. Is FATAL ATTRACTION about misogyny? This film is about the obsessive compulsive behavior of a man who is unbalanced. The fact that he is gay means that he interprets events in the context of his own private world. 3.5 cats"