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Joe (Daniel Craig), a down-to-earth university lecturer in his 30s, is having a picnic in the English countryside with his partner Claire (Samantha Morton) when he unexpectedly gets caught up in a balloon accident in which a man loses his life. In the weeks that follow Joe blames himself for what happens and starts to question his philosophical beliefs. Joe's already fraying sanity is threatened further when he is repeatedly approached by Jed (Rhys Ifans) a seemingly deranged man who was also present at the accident and insists that he and Joe share a mysterious bond.

Review by Jake Wilson:
Though I haven't read the book by Ian McEwan, all the signs suggest that the film of Enduring Love is a textbook case of the pitfalls of adaptation. While the script follows a familiar but effective thriller structure, the filmmakers seem more interested in establishing patterns of symbolism than generating suspense - reversing the approach of directors like Hitchcock who aim at telling an entertaining story while leaving it up to the audience to notice additional layers of meaning. So it's not enough to present the hero as a decent but stiff intellectual - long scenes have to be devoted to his tedious lectures about how all human actions are determined by biology, as if this were a fascinatingly original idea in itself.

As far as I can tell, the theories about life and love woven into the script don't add up to anything of great significance, though of course it's possible something was lost in translation. On its own terms, Roger Michel's studied, quite impressive direction steers a middle course between boring restraint and empty flash - suggesting mental collapse through fragmented imagery and shifts of focus, without laboring the point. The most striking set-piece comes at the start, the deadly balloon crash in England's green and pleasant countryside - almost a scene from a Wes Anderson film, though nothing which follows maintains the storybook surrealism.

On the other hand, the adult realism of the acting and dialogue makes a refreshing change from the cartoonishess of much recent American art cinema. Everyone involved in the project is alive to the comedy and drama between the lines in British small-talk, and this helps them shape the characters into memorably contrasted archetypes without sacrificing detail. Daniel Craig as Joe looks like a pen-and-ink sketch of a 1930s schoolteacher, all worry lines and pinched expressions, while Rhys Ifans has the slightly menacing warmth of an outsize teddy bear. The scenes where these two struggle to establish some kind of shared reality are consistently tense and intriguing, though they don't prevent Samantha Morton from walking off with the film despite her thinly written part.

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CAST: Daniel Craig, Samantha Morton, Rhys Ifans, Alexandra Aitken, Susan Lynch, Bill Nighy, Lee Sheward, Bill Weston

PRODUCER: Kevin Loader

DIRECTOR: Roger Michell

SCRIPT: Joe Penhall (Ian McEwan, novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Haris Zambarloukos

EDITOR: Nicolas Gaster

MUSIC: Jeremy Sams


RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes



VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 21st Century Pictures Video

VIDEO RELEASE: August 31, 2005

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