Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Enduring Love

ENDURING LOVE (Roger Michell, 2004)

In ENDURING LOVE a couple prepares to enjoy a picnic in a beautiful English field. Joe appears to be on the verge of proposing to Claire. Then the bucolic setting is disrupted when a hot air balloon, skimming the ground and drifting out of control, comes into view. Joe and two others rush to assist the man trying to keep the balloon earthbound. Three fail to hold onto a rope while one would-be rescuer hangs on too long and then plummets to his death. Joe feels guilty and believes he let go first. He wants to forget the incident, but Jed, a stranger who also tried to help, keeps approaching him with an alarming frequency. Jed believes the tragedy was meant to bring them together.

ENDURING LOVE’S title refers to something that must be survived rather than a lasting condition. Joe becomes painfully aware of love’s messy, unpredictable nature. Joe believes that love--and everything that could be summarized as “character”--is nothing more than biological reaction. Jed’s intense fixation on him, whether based in religious mania, romantic obsession, or a combination of the two, fails to be explained through such scientific rationale. In fact, the balloon incident challenges Joe’s worldview. Human actions and reactions can’t be readily quantified in and explained via mathematical equations. Director Roger Michell explores these headier themes through a thriller’s structure. As Joe, Daniel Craig gives a solid performance in the tradition of Hitchcock’s wrong men. Rhys Ifans grounds the unhinged Jed with a puppy dog’s demeanor, giving his zealous nature a frightening edge. ENDURING LOVE is often thrilling in its depiction of obsession’s destructive power.

Grade: B+

(Review first aired on the December 7, 2004 NOW PLAYING)

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