Love And Death On Long Island

Love And Death On Long Island


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The English are nervous of passion, unless you're a Bronte, stuck on the Yorkshire moors with nothing to do but dream. Giles De'Ath (John Hurt) is a gentleman novelist of the syntax-is-God school. He wears tweeds in summer, won't touch technology, prefers fountain pen to typewriter and lives an ordered, quiet life.

He has lunch at the club with his agent and secretly enjoys refusing invitations to be interviewed by the media, as if saying "no" increases his status as a mystery man of letters. His wife has been dead many years. She was an energetic, opinionated person with a successful career of her own. He talks of her occasionally as he would a childhood pet.

One day he locks himself out of his flat and rather than wait for Mrs Barker (Sheila Hancock), who "does" for him, shelters from the rain in a cinema round the corner. He thinks he's watching the latest E M Forster adaptation, but  finds himself suffering the vulgarities of a teenage Hollywood romp.

About to storm off in disgust, he becomes captivated by one of the actors, Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley), a baby faced pretty boy, who works in a pizza parlour and is the butt of the other jocks' jokes. Love And Death chronicles Giles' obsession, as he buys teen mags and videos of Ronnie's early films. He buys a video recorder only to discover it won't work without a TV. He buys a TV. Mobile phones are out of the question, although the fax in something he can relate to. He discovers where Ronnie lives on Long Island and goes there, so blindly infatuated he feels unembarrassed by his anachronistic appearance and bold enough to make his own introductions, using charm to cloak his true intent.

In the end, this is the story of a lonely old man lusting after youth. If it wasn't for John Hurt's astonishing performance and Richard Kwietniowski's dark sense of humour, it would have little to recommend it. As an exercise in humiliation, there are few outlets for pathos. Why is desire so much less appealing when it comes from the arid wastes of a dusty intellect?

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A reclusive widower becomes obssessed with a film star.
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Director: Richard Kwietniowski

Writer: Richard Kwietniowski

Starring: John Hurt, Jason Priestley, Fiona Loewi, Sheila Hancock, Harvey Atkin, Gawn Grainger, Elizabeth Quinn, Maury Chaykin, Linda Busby, Bill Leadbitter, Anne Reid

Year: 1996

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, Canada


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