Picnicking in a brilliantly green field on the outskirts of London, a couple's afternoon meal is interrupted by the surreal sight of a hot air balloon crashing nearby. The man, a professor and author named Joe (Daniel Craig) who lectures university students about the meaninglessness of love (which, he argues, is merely a biological impulse), rushes to the balloon's aid while his quiet girlfriend, a sculptor named Claire (Samantha Morton), watches in horror. Aided by a collection of passersby, Joe attempts to prevent the balloon - which still contains a young boy in its carriage- from once again taking flight, but a giant gust of wind suddenly sends the vehicle, and those grasping its side, airborne. Joe, a man averse to commitment and lacking in genuine courage, lets go of the balloon while it's still low, as do most of the other would-be rescuers. One man, in a fatal mistake, does not, and the boy dies, unseen, minutes later in a crash.

In Roger Michell's Enduring Love - its title a reference not only to everlasting adoration, but also to physically and emotionally surviving love - this tragedy is the catalyst for Joe's uncomfortable encounter with Jed (Rhys Ifans), another unsuccessful hero from that fateful day who develops an unhealthy interest in the mild-mannered teacher. With disheveled blond hair drooping over his brow and clothes which look like they've been slept in, Jed is a creepy sort of chap, and it doesn't take long before his friendly entreaties to Joe transform into disturbing, obsessive pleas for love. Jed is from the Glenn Close school of affection, and Michell's adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel - after its entrancingly dreamlike opening passage - reveals itself to be a gay-themed Fatal Attraction in which homosexuality and deranged lunacy are treated as identical sides of the same coin. According to the film's distressingly antiquated morality, heterosexual commitment and parenting are good, adultery and stalking are bad, and when it comes to same-sex relations, the only tolerable reason for a man to kiss another man is as a clever ploy to murder him.

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