Film review: Enduring Love

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 24 2004 3:27 p.m. MST

Something has obviously been lost in the translation as "Enduring Love" made its way from the printed page to the big screen. Actually, a lot has.

While the source material — Ian McEwan's novel — received raves for its deep thematic ruminations and oddball plotting, those things seem a little windy and contrived here. Also, the lack of a really sympathetic or interesting main character makes the film version a bit of an endurance test. That in spite of a decent cast.

Daniel Craig stars as Joe, a writer and lecturer whose beliefs are shaken when he witnesses a horrific ballooning accident. He and his girlfriend, Claire (Samantha Morton), are having a picnic in a field when he suddenly finds himself trying to bring down a runaway hot-air balloon.

However, they're unable to prevent it from drifting away with a young boy inside, and another would-be rescuer plummets to his death.

The event continues to haunt Joe and is beginning to affect his relationship with Claire. And it's evidently unhinged another witness, Jed (Rhys Ifans), who's turned up on Joe's doorstep, trying to have a conversation about what happened. At first, Joe humors Jed, but then quickly grows tired of Jed's near-constant presence in his life.

Roger Michell's direction is stylish and achieves a fairly unsettling tone. But Joe Penhall's script is unable to get into these character's heads, and the characterizations seem as superficial as some of the "insights" about life and love.

Craig can be an interesting supporting presence, but as a lead, he's aloof and out of sorts — at least here. Also, while it's interesting to see Ifans playing a less-goofy character than usual, his appearance is still somewhat comical, which makes it hard to swallow some of his character's actions.

The film also commits a huge error by keeping Morton's screen time to a bare minimum. Her nicely understated performance is one of the film's biggest assets.

"Enduring Love" is rated R for occasional use of strong sexual profanity, violence (a horrific fall, plus two stabbings), some graphic gore, use of some crude slang terms, some brief sexual contact, and some brief male nudity. Running time: 100 minutes.


E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com