Enduring Love

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 May, 2005, 12:00am

Starring: Daniel Craig, Samantha Morton, Rhys Ifans

Director: Roger Michell

The film: Hitting the big screen late last year, this adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel of the same name is an impressively strong British production.

Director Roger Michell has scored big hits before - most notably with the light comedy Notting Hill (1999) and fast-paced court-paper mix-up caper Changing Lanes (2002) - but this is a separate entity: a drama that grips with no let up, whose only laughs are desperate ones. Although the drama, owes a lot to McEwan, naturally, the author has gone on record saying that he's glad screenwriter Joe Penhall made significant modifications, in the interest of visual storytelling.

The film's title is deliberately ambiguous. It's about both long-lasting love and about suffering the love of another person.

At the centre of this double meaning is English literature university lecturer, Joe (Daniel Craig) - a cynic when it comes to love, despite being in a happy relationship with girlfriend Clare (Samantha Morton), a sculptress with whom he lives. Despite never having married, Joe is wary of the institution and scorns love as unscientific claptrap whenever given the chance at social gatherings or in the lecture room.

As if this personal quandary, over which he obsesses, wasn't enough to keep Joe's mind (as well as that of Clare and his students) at perpetual unease, another love complication falls from the sky.

The film opens with Joe and Clare about to embark on a picnic in a field when a hot air balloon in trouble descends near them with fatal consequences. Among a handful of helpless bystanders who dash to the scene is Jed (Rhys Ifans). After the event, Jed forms an obsessive non-sexual love for Joe, which the latter has a hard time enduring.

Clare's all-supporting character can take only so much of Joe's preoccupation with Jed and their relationship falters. This is contrasted with the couple's closest friends, who are happily married, proving that the institution can work (not so in the novel).

The build-up to the resolution of Joe, Clare and Jed's bizarre scenario makes compelling viewing.

The extras: Plenty to get your teeth into. An excellent commentary track from director Roger Michell and producer Kevin Loader, who were both involved in part of the screenplay adaptations, contains virtually no waffle. Deleted scenes, referred to in the commentary, are also included.

A featurette focuses on the shooting of the balloon accident, which screens for just four minutes but exhausted 20 per cent of production time and budget. Two others interview actors and McEwan.

There are cinema and TV trailers and a short mockumentary comedy titled Burst (which has nothing to do with hot-air ballooning), directed by Michell.

The verdict: Modern British filmmaking at its best, with a load of interesting extras.