Enduring Love

on October 29, 2004 by Tim Cogshell
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Adapted from the acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan, "Enduring Love" is a frustrating film that abandons the promise of intrigue for something ultimately quite ordinary. It's breathtakingly beautiful throughout (an intense opening sequence will leave audiences breathless) and it verges on the edge of profundity; yet it is simultaneously as trite as the most middling of genre films. From the opening frames, extraordinary events are at hand here, and there are things to be given away in any description of this movie, which we will attempt to avoid here with very little success.

Joe and Claire ("The Mother's" Daniel Craig and "In America's" Samantha Morton) are on a picnic in a bucolic field in the English countryside when suddenly a passenger balloon hurtles into the scene, out of control. Joe and three other men race to the rescue, momentarily dragging the runaway balloon to a halt. Fate or happenstance intervenes and someone dies most horribly. This alone is enough to set the stage for any number of extraordinary films--films about the vicissitudes of life and death, films about existential crisis in the wake of bizarre tragedy, films about a great many driving issues--but "Enduring Love" isn't any of these things. What's worse, it pretends to be. It imagines it's about men in crisis after a life-changing event and what that will means to the rest of their lives, but it's not. It's a simple psychological thriller about nothing more than obsession. It fritters about the edges of many more interesting ideas, leaving them all unexplored to instead give us a knife-wielding maniac and a man-kiss.

Daniel Craig is particularly good as he attempts to reason the events of the day. Rhys Ifans has moments but the role devolves into the run-of-the-mill nutcase. Bill Nighy is delightfully droll in a small supporting role. But "Enduring Love" is just a homo-erotic thriller having more in common with "Fatal Attraction" than the recent musings of Bertolucci ("Dreamers") or Godard ("In Praise of Love"). Starring Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton, Bill Nighy, Susan Lynch and Helen McCrory. Directed by Roger Michell. Written by Joe Penhall. Produced by Kevin Loader. A Paramount Classics release. Drama/Thriller. Rated R for language, some violence and a disturbing image. Running time: 98 min

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