From The Cement Garden to his brilliant Atonement, Britain’s Ian McEwan picks at the wounds left by terrible events, linking death to desire in ways that both challenge the nature of art and illuminate the difficulties of modern living. Director Roger Michell understands the questions McEwan raises about love in his novel Enduring Love, but not unlike his film The Mother (from a screenplay by Intimacy author Hanif Kureishi), the director shoots the thing like a soulless spread for Modern Living. The opening scene, an evocation of untainted bliss between a bestselling author (a beefy Daniel Craig) and his sculptor girlfriend (a wasted Samantha Morton) in an empty field, is a triumph. A hot air balloon glides into frame and the life of a young boy literally dangles in the hands of a group of strangers. Then, a horrible death, which resigns Joe (Craig) to a life of could-have-beens and should-have-happends, a ritual of grief that’s speciously amplified by Michell’s cloying hot-air balloon imagery and further distorted when Jed (Rhys Ifans), who is similarly linked to the death in the field, begins to stalk Joe. Is he a Jesus freak? A crazed fan? A homosexual psychopath? Michell doesn’t seem to think it matters, which wouldn’t be so much of a problem if he also didn’t imply that Joe’s strange relationship to Jed may be a figment of the author’s metaphysical imagination. (For the life of me I can’t think of a reason why Morton’s character just doesn’t look out the window when Joe tells her that the creepy Jed is looking at their apartment from a park across the street.) There’s always some sort of class struggle coded into the misery of McEwan’s novels, but it’s not something that registers in this film adaptation. Michell’s direction can only be described as bourgeois, and though his screenplay retains the pretense of McEwan’s theories on love, biology, and everything in between, the transplant is trite and messy.
- Paramount Classics
- 100 min
- Roger Michell
- Roger Michell
- Daniel Craig, Samantha Morton, Rhys Ifans, Alexandra Aitken, Susan Lynch, Anna Maxwell Martin, Helen McCrory, Rosie Michell, Bill Nighy
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