After this promising start, however, the movie itself suddenly downturns and plummets to its own demise. Would-be rescuer Joe (Daniel Craig) begins to obsess about the incident, going so far as to re-create it with drawings and models -- like Richard Dreyfuss in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," but without the humor. His sculptor girlfriend Claire (Samantha Morton) tries to put up with his severe change in behavior because he was about to propose and she wants the old Joe back. But their relationship is now in decline. Joe is so haunted that he has a hard time thinking of anything but how that stranger met his end and if he's in some way at fault.
But just as Joe seems like he might shake it off, another of the balloonatics, Jed (Rhys Ifans) turns up out of nowhere, insisting he and Joe made a spiritual connection. At first Jed seems like a religious nut who wants to convert Joe, but it turns out he's nothing but a grade-Z stalker. Joe continuously fails to take any steps to protect himself or Claire from his newfound "friend," and things spin out of control -- of course.
For most of the film, director Roger Michell flounders about with the camera, trying all kinds of different, sometimes bizarre angles, as if hoping something will stick. At one point he offers up an eerie point-of-view shot, hiding behind a bookcase -- but there's no followup on the implication. In fact, there's no one standing in that spot. At the same time he dabbles in several forms of simile and metaphor, but all of it seems desperate and half-formed.
In the past, Michell has excelled at chilly romance ("Persuasion") as well as warm comedy ("Notting Hill"), not to mention his deft handling of the shaky familial love triangle in this year's drama "The Mother." But here he comes across as a rank amateur with no idea how to make "Enduring Love" work.
That opening image, also in Ian McEwan's book of the same name, probably gave a lot of actors and investors hope for a good movie. But we need quite a bit more.
Run time: 100 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th November 2004
Box Office USA: $0.3M
Distributed by: Paramount Classics
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Fresh: 57 Rotten: 39
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Roger Michell
Starring: Daniel Craig as Joe, Samantha Morton as Claire, Bill Weston as Grandfather, Jeremy McCurdie as Boy in Balloon, Lee Sheward as John Logan, Nick Wilkinson as Farmer, Rhys Ifans as Jed, Bill Nighy as Robin, Susan Lynch as Rachel, Ben Whishaw as Spud