Film review: Enduring Love

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Enduring Love

I read the book by Ian McEwan some time ago and was impressed at its multi-layered, subtle portrayal of obsession. Director Roger Michell has travelled a long way from his best known work on Notting Hill and delivers a get-under-your-skin, though slightly pedestrian, telling of McEwan’s tale.

Anyone who has read the book will tell you how shocking the open scene is, and justice is done to it here with choppy editing and a complete lack of music. The latter is a blessing since the music throughout is one of the worst features of this film, going from a bland but good enough three note signature to a terrible ‘English drama on the telly’ theme that cheapens the whole production.

Anyway, Joe (an excellent Daniel Craig) and Claire (Samantha Morton) are lovers enjoying an idyllic picnic when Joe suddenly finds himself part of a terrible incident involving a hot air balloon and the age old question of ‘when to let go’. One of the other men involved in the incident is a lonely obsessive called Jed (Rhys Ifans finally getting to show his range as an actor), who becomes convinced that he and Joe are meant to be together. His habit of referring to Joe as ‘Joe Joe’ was particularly disturbing to my girlfriend as—phonetically—that’s the nickname I have for her.

Enduring Love would have a very hard time delivering the subtleties of the novel, and one has to wonder why Joe never calls the police at any point, but on the whole the film is creepy and engaging enough, with a touch of complexity in its meditations about the nature of love. English films featuring well-off upper middle class intellectuals getting their comeuppance seem to be a bit too common, and Joe’s sketchily developed career as a university lecturer going on and on about ‘what is love?’ doesn’t work, but the film’s gritty realism is mostly effective (Bill Nighy is especially sympathetic as Joe’s friend). Ifans plays Jed with frustrating intensity and absolute conviction. But it’s the two main protagonists, and their existence on two opposite ends of the concept of love that in a strange way almost brings them together, that makes this more than just another stalker story.

Three ripcords out of five.

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