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  Enduring Love Stalking Up A Storm
Year: 2004
Director: Roger Michell
Stars: Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton, Bill Nighy, Susan Lynch, Helen McCrory, Andrew Lincoln, Ben Whishaw, Justin Salinger, Alexandra Aitken, Corin Redgrave, Anna Maxwell Martin, Bill Weston, Lee Sheward, Nick Wilkinson, Jeremy McCurdie
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is a pleasant summer's day in the English countryside, and university lecturer Joe (Daniel Craig) and sculptor Claire (Samantha Morton) are taking a break for a picnic in a field. It seems idyllic until Claire's expression clouds - Joe whips round to see what she's staring at as a hot air ballon drags its basket along the ground nearby. Joe leaps to his feet to help the grandfather who is trying to stop the balloon floating away and taking his young grandson with it, and soon there are four men desperately grabbing hold of the ropes. But then a strong gust of wind lifts it, carrying them all up into the sky...

Enduring Love was an adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel, and he jumped aboard in an executive producer capacity which may be why the film is more or less faithful to the book. It's a tale of two men, one who questions the world around him and another who has his overwhelming faith in God to seek guidance from, and they both meet at the site of the balloon accident at the beginning, realised with startling effectiveness. And rightly so, as the event immediately throws different light on relationships Joe has considered steady, making him wake up to the fact he has faith he didn't know he had.

And unfortunately, that faith has been swept out from under him, leaving him flailing. What has happened was that every one of the men holding onto the balloon let go save for a doctor who let it travel too high and couldn't risk giving up his grasp on the rope. Then, of course, the unthinkable occurs and he falls. When Joe and another would be rescuer, Jed (Rhys Ifans) reach the body they're both in a state of shock and Jed asks Joe if he will pray with him; Joe protests, then humours him and kneels while Jed puts his palms together. It is this seemingly innocuous act that bids them together in Jed's mind.

Joe thinks he can cope, but as the memory of the incident haunts him, so does Jed who begins stalking him. It's a familiar movie set up, with the obsessed Jed hanging around outside Joe's home, following him around and when he does speak with him he has imbued their traumatic exeprience with a significance that Joe doesn't understand. Like many stalkers, Jed sees importance in details and actions that his victim is unaware of, believing Joe is leading him on when he is actually entirely innocent.

As Jed grows more persistent, Joe's relationship with Claire suffers, and what was previously a bond that reinforced his confidence is now an example of human frailty. Joe overanalyses things now, taking a scientific view to love as merely a mechanism to promote breeding, while Jed's love for him is born out of God and, it is implied, homosexual attraction. We don't find out nearly enough about the stalker's motives and despite an excellent, needling performance from Ifans, the character remains something of an enigma. Craig gets more to work with, and is convincing as the intellectual cracking up, but you might be pondering over his reluctance to go to the police (as he does in the book), indeed, we never see the cops at all. Overall, the film has a mistrust in faith, whether religious, romantic or scientific, and leaves one with a dejected, "what's the bloody point of it all?" mood. Music by Jeremy Sams.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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