Enduring Love

Enduring Love


Reviewed by: David Haviland

In a remarkable opening scene, Joe (Daniel Craig) and Claire (Samantha Morton) enjoy a romantic picnic in a field. Joe is about to propose, when a hot air balloon suddenly descends, drifting clumsily to earth. The balloon is out of control, with a boy trapped in the basket, so Joe and three other men rush over to help.

They each grab a rope and after much effort seem to have the balloon grounded, until suddenly a gust of wind seizes it and three of them let go. As the balloon soars away, we see the last man hanging on and then falling to his death.

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Joe is deeply troubled by this incident, as he suspects he might have been the first person to let go. The accident brings another problem: Jed (Rhys Ifans), who also let go of the rope, now feels that he and Joe have some kind of special connection.

It's at this point that the film loses its way and unfortunately we're still in the first half hour. Jed thinks the experience means he and Joe have fallen in love and begins following him everywhere. Joe starts going insane under this pressure and struggles to maintain his relationships and career.

The film is an adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel, in which perhaps the plot and characters are more successfully explained. On film, the story quickly becomes ludicrous. Joe seems tormented by Jed, yet never makes any meaningful effort to get rid of him. Instead, he drives away his own friends and Claire, for no apparent reason beyond a general sense that he's highly stressed.

The problem is that the film is much more interested in vague themes than its characters, so the screenplay is littered with pretentious speeches about the nature of love and evolution. None of these seem to come naturally from the characters and the script's treatment of such themes is simplistic and wilfully gloomy.

Craig and Ifans try hard to invest some humanity into thanklessly absurd roles; Morton and Bill Nighy fare better, with the more plausible secondary characters. Notting Hill director Roger Michell shoots the film with some style, but never manages to conceal the falseness of the script.

In hindsight, the opening scene seems particularly apt, as the film itself is little more than hot air.

Reviewed on: 28 Nov 2004
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A man is driven mad by a stalker.
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Read more Enduring Love reviews:

Gary Duncan ****

Director: Roger Michell

Writer: Joe Penhall, based on the novel by Ian McEwan

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton, Bill Nighy, Susan Lynch, Andrew Lincoln

Year: 2004

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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