Enduring Love

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/10/2004

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Smartly scripted, thoughtful and intense drama with strong performances from Craig, Morton and Ifans.

Ian McEwan’s acclaimed novel Enduring Love has been adapted for the screen by screenwriter Joe Penhall, who recently adapted The Long Firm for television. In doing so, he has opened up the novel, fleshing out the characters and imposing more of a traditional thriller structure onto it.

Whether or not McEwan approves of this is anybody’s guess, but he’s on board as an associate producer, which presumably means he either doesn’t mind or the film-makers paid him enough to keep quiet about it.

There Is No Love, Only Biology

Daniel Craig stars as Joe, a university lecture who gives seminars in which he says things like, “Love is meaningless. There is no ‘love’, there is only biology”. While out on a picnic with his girlfriend, Claire (Samantha Morton), he witnesses a tragic accident involving a hot air balloon and tries to help out.

Joe becomes increasingly obsessed with the cause of the accident and his own guilt, so he doesn’t immediately realise that he’s being stalked by Jed (Rhys Ifans), one of the other witnesses, a religious maniac who believes that he loves Joe.

Enduring Love is directed by Roger Michell, who seems to improve as a director with every film. His previous film, The Mother, also starred Daniel Craig and, like Enduring Love, made strong use of its London locations.

A Far Cry From Hollywood Thrillers

Craig is well cast in the lead – the early scenes in which he obsesses over balloons and balloon shapes are well handled and form a nice parallel with the intensity of Jed’s obsession with Joe. Ifans is extremely good, too, giving an impressively creepy performance, particularly in the smaller details, such as the way he calls Joe “Jo-Jo”, or simply refers to himself as “Jed…from the balloon”.

Samantha Morton is equally impressive as Claire, managing to pull off a smooth transition from being initially sympathetic to losing all patience with Joe; their break-up scene is brilliantly written and is a definite highlight.

There’s also strong support from Helen McCrory (as the victim’s widow wrestling with questions of her own) and from Bill Nighy and Susan Lynch, playing characters who aren’t in the book, but who serve a useful dramatic purpose.

Though the climax sticks a little too closely to thriller conventions, this is a far cry from your typical Hollywood stalker thriller. Instead the film works as both a psychological drama and a thoughtful, intense meditation on love, guilt and relationships. As such, it is definitely worth seeing, particularly for its stunning opening sequence.

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Content updated: 27/02/2020 00:26

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