Despite the titles' suggestion of a romantic love story, this film is anything but. A dark and sometimes intensely disturbing tale of death, relationships, guilt and ultimately, obsession.
Based on the best selling novel by Ian McEwan, Enduring Love begins with a couple enjoying a summer picnic in a field somewhere in the picturesque English countryside. University lecturer Joe (Daniel Craig- Layer Cake) and his sculptor girlfriend Claire (Samantha Morton - Minority Report) have been apart for a while and are now back together, Joe is preparing to ask Claire for her hand in marriage but is abruptly interrupted by a passing hot air balloon which is scrapping along the grass obviously in some trouble. A young boy is still in the basket and a man is clinging to the trailing rope desperately trying to bring the balloon under control. Joe Rushes to help as do several other passers by. A driver ( Lee Seward - stunt coordinator (thankfully!)), a walker, Jed ( Rhys Ifans - Notting Hill) and the father of the boy ( Bill Weston - stunt coordinator). Just as they think they have the balloon under control, a strong gust of wind takes the balloon high into the air leaving everyone on the ground except the boy in the basket and the driver still clinging onto the rope. As the balloon climbs higher and drifts over fields, the driver cannot hold on any longer and plunges to his death. Obviously shocked, Jed asks Joe to pray with him which Joe reluctantly does. This innocent gesture by Joe proves to be the beginning of a dark and terrifying relationship as Jed becomes obsessed with Joe believing that Joe is his true love and soul mate.
p>The title itself has a somewhat ambiguous meaning. Is it love that endures and lasts through all of life's difficulties? Or is it love itself that needs to be endured? Within the context of this story, both meanings apply. This film is about obsession and what 'love' means to different people. Jed feels he is deeply in love with Joe, whilst Joe questions the existence of love at all, claiming it to be a 'trick' by mother nature with the sole purpose of getting humans to have sex. The opening scene has such impact, that you kind of lose touch with the rest of the movie, still running through the disturbing beginning in your mind, in a similar way as the opening 10 minutes of Saving Private Ryan did. The start is so traumatic, that you know it can only go downhill from there.
And so it does. The acting is fine, in fact Daniel Craig puts in one of his finest performances to date. It's just that the story has so many annoying holes in it that you begin to wonder what the point of it all is. Why Joe doesn't just go to the police is beyond me! (check out the deleted scenes for one such encounter) Why he doesn't ask Jed if he has an attraction for him is also frustrating. He just keeps asking Jed what he wants and you are shouting at the screen...” HE FANCIES YOU, YOU IDIOT!!” By the end of the movie you find yourself asking what was that all about? All in all, a somewhat forgettable film with a truly unforgettable opening.
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