Enduring Love Movie Review

"Enduring Love" opens with a startling and powerful sequence: A runaway hot-air balloon bounces through a giant, sloping green field somewhere outside of London. A group of anonymous men give chase and grab hold of the basket, hoping to drag it to the ground and rescue the panicked young boy inside. But then can't hang on, save one man who hangs on too long -- and falls to his death.

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.


Comments

Enduring Love Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, LIMITED: Friday, November 12, 2004

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