Combustible Celluloid
 

Enduring Love (2004)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Balloonatics

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Enduring Love on DVD.

Roger Michell's new film Enduring Love opens with a startling and powerful sequence involving a runaway hot-air balloon bouncing through a giant, sloping green field somewhere outside of London. A group of anonymous men run after the vehicle and attach themselves to its basket, hoping to drag it from the sky. One man hangs on too long and falls to his death.

After this promising start, the movie itself suddenly downturns and plummets to its own death. Joe (Daniel Craig) begins to obsess about the incident, going so far as to re-create it with drawings and models (like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but without the humor). His sculptor girlfriend Claire (Samantha Morton) puts up with him even though their relationship is in decline, since Joe has put proposing on hold since the balloon incident.

Another of the balloonatics, Jed (Rhys Ifans) begins showing up around Joe, demanding his attention. At first Jed seems like a religious nut who wants to convert Joe, but it turns out he's nothing but a grade-Z stalker. Joe continuously fails to do anything logical about his newfound friend, and things spin out of control.

For most of the film, Michell flounders about with the camera, trying all kinds of different, bizarre angles, as if hoping something will stick. At the same time he dabbles in several forms of simile and metaphor, but all of it seems desperate and half-formed.

Michell has excelled at chilly romance (Persuasion) as well as warm comedy (Notting Hill), not to mention his deft handling of the shaky idea behind this year's The Mother. Now he comes across as a rank amateur with no idea how to make Enduring Love work.

That opening image, also in Ian McEwan's book of the same name, probably gave a lot of filmmakers and investors hope for a good movie. But we need quite a bit more.

Starring: Daniel Craig, Samantha Morton, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln, Helen McCrory, Susan Lynch
Written by: Joe Penhall, based on a novel by Ian McEwan
Directed by: Roger Michell
MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence and a disturbing image
Running Time: 100 minutes
Date: November 12, 2004

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