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ENDURING LOVE

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton, Bill Nighy
Director: Roger Michell
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: May 3, 2005

“GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT I’D BE…WITHOUT YOU!”

Film ***

Had it not been for the coming attractions trailer I manage to catch for Enduring Love, the movie may have slipped right past me. However, had I’d never seen the trailer prior to watching the movie; the experience would’ve been twice as exhilarating. The trailer doesn’t reveal too much, but Enduring Love carries a plot that goes in the most unexpected of places as it progresses, following a purely stunning opening.

It begins calmly enough with English couple Joe (Daniel Craig) and Claire (Samantha Morton) enjoying a picnic in the countryside. Then out of nowhere, a hot air balloon appears floating in an out of control motion. A man leaps out of to the close ground below. A young boy is left inside, and the balloon starts to maneuver upward.

Joe races to help, as do several other onlookers. Grabbing onto a rope and helping to pull the balloon safely, he does all that he can before forcing himself to fall back to the earth as it rises. Other men who help leap to the ground as well, but one man holds on. Minutes later, that last man plunges from the rope to meet a grisly demise.

The incident will stick with Joe for more than one reason, the second of which having to do with an accomplice who assisted in the rescue attempt. His name is Jed (Rhys Ifans), and right from the get go, he seems a little off from Joe’s point of view. When looking at the dead man’s corpse, Jed asks Joe to join him in prayer. Joe admits he doesn’t believe in prayer, yet Jed insists.

Some time goes by following the incident. Joe intends on moving on, focusing on that of his girlfriend and his profession of teaching ethics and love at a nearby University. However, Joe’s entire life takes a spontaneous turn the day when out of nowhere, Jed pops up and asks Joe for some kind of consultation.

At first, Joe thinks Jed is suffering from a post traumatic disorder, and needs some serious help. The matter starts to grow hostile as Jed begins stalking Joe almost everywhere he goes. Why is Jed torturing Joe psychologically? The reasons for it all are not worth revealing. Trust me when I say that it won’t be like anything you expect.

The film’s director is Roger Michell, most noted for directing the romantic comedy Notting Hill (which co-starred Ifans), but whose real achievement was with the mesmerizing drama Changing Lanes from 2002. Michell, working with a screenplay by Joe Penhall (itself adapted from the novel by Ian McEwan) has made quite a haunting piece. It has the feeling of a drama descending into a thriller, but the crucial actions in the story seem to have an even bigger purpose as one of the characters suggest.

If you’re looking for a film to surprise you by how it unfolds, then Enduring Love is one film you should indeed discover. It’s a strikingly haunting drama that, at times, carries the ability to really get under your skin in a rare cerebral way. Tremendously well acted and terrifically made all across the board.

Video ***1/2

Paramount’s anamorphic presentation is a most terrific one. The image provided soars with a strong level of all around clarity and strong detail. Daylight sequences fare much better than some of the darker shots, but that’s my only quibble. Colors are nicely handled, too.

Audio ***

This is first and foremost a dialogue driven piece, but the 5.1 mix makes the most of it with a pleasant sounding performance. Words are delivered wonderfully, and several sequences are injected with a lively level of surround sound, perfectly reflecting the mood of the scenes.

Features ½*

All that is featured are bonus previews for addition Paramount titles, including fellow must sees Mean Creek and The United States of Leland.

Summary:

Enduring Love is as haunting as movies get. This is one piece that will grip you and surprise you as it progresses to its dark final moments. Strongly recommended.

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