"Daniel Craig is really good at playing a man who is stuck with increasing panic and yet managed to stay outwardly calm but innately he is breaking into pieces."
SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERSReleased In
A book of the same title by Ian McEwan who I think wrote Atonement, which is of course made into a movie starring the very popular (for reasons I could never understand) Keira Knightley) and mega popular James McAvoy.
Daniel Craig ... Joe
Samantha Morton ... Claire
Bill Weston ... Grandfather
Jeremy McCurdie ... Boy in Balloon (as Jeremy Mccurdie)
Lee Sheward ... John Logan
Nick Wilkinson ... Farmer
Rhys Ifans ... Jed
Bill Nighy ... Robin
Susan Lynch ... Rachel
Ben Whishaw ... Spud
Justin Salinger ... Frank
Andrew Lincoln ... TV Producer
Helen McCrory ... Mrs. Logan
Rosie Michell ... Katie Logan (as Rosanna Michell)
Ella Doyle ... Katie Logan's Friend
Taken from IMDB.com.
On a beautiful cloudless day a young couple celebrate their reunion with a picnic. Joe has planned a postcard-perfect afternoon in the English countryside with his partner, Claire. But as Joe and Claire prepare to open a bottle of champagne, their idyll comes to an abrupt end. A hot air balloon drifts into the field, obviously in trouble. The pilot catches his leg in the anchor rope, while the only passenger, a boy, is too scared to jump down. Joe and three other men rush to secure the basket. Just as they secure the balloon, the wind rushes into the field, and at once the rescuers are airborne. Joe manages to drop to the ground, as do most of his companions, but one man is lifted skywards. As Joe, Claire and the other rescuers watch this strangely beautiful sight, they see the man fall to his death. Recalling the day's events at dinner with his friends Robin and Rachel, Joe reveals the impact the accident has had on his battered psyche. Ironically the balloon eventually lands safely, the boy unscathed. But fate has far more unpleasant things in store for Joe. Going to retrieve the body of the fallen man with fellow rescuer Jed Parry, for example, turns out to be a very bad move. Jed feels an instant connection with Joe--one that, as the weeks go by, becomes ever more intense.
The title can be very misleading because you might think this is a love story. It may be but of a twisted kind. Not Fatal Attraction but quite almost there. The story in here deals with one man's obssession with another man.
Jed and Joe (any reason why both names start with the alphabet J?) met during a rescue attempt of a flyaway hotair balloon with a teenager in it. It started peacefully, with Joe enjoying a nice pinic with his live in girlfriend when they saw I think 2 or 3 men trying to stop a hot airballoon. It seems that ballon was accidentally released and there was a kid in it, very scared and afraid to jump. Joe immediately went to help, with all their might they couldn't stop it and one man hung to the rope and was carried high up into the sky whilst Jed and Joe let go. The man fell to his death and ironically the boy later landed safely. Joe was full of remorse and felt guilty that he let go, feeling perhaps he didn't display that sort of foolish bravery that that dead man did. One day he was approached by Jed who felt the same way. Together they went in search of the body, for a bit of closure. They connected through this event until Jed took it to another level. He used that as an excuse to keep seeing Joe and after a while that became an obssession when Jed was convinced Joe was trying to seduce him although Joe kept reminding Jed that wasn't the case. Jed became a stalker and Joe became increasingly worried that Jed may do something foolish to him. Joe tried to confide in his girlfriend, the sculptor but their relationship was already facing some problems. She didn't believe him, refused to even entertain his paranoia and Joe was left alone to fend for himself. After a while, Jed became obssessed with Joe and Joe could not turn to anyone, not even his close friends. Jed meanwhile was convinced Joe was in love with him and would do anything to set Joe free to love him. One day Joe already under a very strained relationship with his disbelieving girlfriend went home and saw Jed there, talking to her. Jed in fact told her his belief that Joe was in love with him and his girlfriend whilst doubtful didn't quite rebuke that either. Joe was fed up and decided to leave when Jed, feeling he has done something wrong tried to remedy the situation by taking what he view as the reason for Joe's leaving; Jed took a knife and stabbed Claire who was in complete shock over what happened. As she lied dying on her own pool of blood with the obssessed crazy Jed standing over her, Joe knew he had to do something. He didn't expect Jed to do what he did. So when Jed approached him and confessed his feelings, Joe allowed Jed to approach him and with one passionate kiss on the lips, Joe quickly took his chance, took the knife and stabbed Jed. Joe quickly rushed to Claire's side. The next scene we see Joe and Claire at the same picnic area, both trying to come to terms over what happened, Claire over her refusal to believe Joe and Joe over what happened with Jed. And they toasted each other. Meanwhile Jed didn't die. In fact he was incarcerated into a mental institution and he spent his day, every day writing a love letter to Joe.
Obssession. Is that what is meant by enduring love? An obssession, however negative is enduring in its own way? After I saw Casino Royale, I found many positive comments on Daniel Craig's performance in Enduring Love that I began hunting for the movie, apart from the movies Small Voices and The Mother which sadly could not be found. It was difficult to find and buy so in the end I found the torrent which took a long time to download. Was it worth all the trouble? Well, truth be told, the movie isn't your typical action or drama movie. It is hard to categorise the story and to call it a male Fatal Attraction story is not right. Joe is not a man trying to get Jed's attention, in fact Jed somehow misconstrued Joe's friendliness or rather saw things his own way. Jed is not a stable man, he has issues, maybe mental issues obviously but other issues as well as in this movie he is a homeless bum. This story is based on a book and apparently this movie's Jed differs vastly from the Jed in the book who had a career and an ordinary life. Maybe being a homeless bum justifies his obssession, since nothing better to do. It does chart quite interestingly the progression from strangers to friends to stalker to obssessed lover. Jed could turn up anytime at Joe's house, standing on the street all night, behind the window, in a restaurant, etc that as Joe one would be as creeped out as Joe was. Joe knew Jed was obssessed with him, that it was a sexual kind of obssession. We never knew Jed's past, whether he was a homosexual, whether his obssession stem from something in his past, etc. We don't even know is Jed is crazy or psychotic. He could have just been a man disillussioned by something and therefore his mind is set in a way that allows his imagination to flow free. Maybe he even genuinely believes that Joe is in love with him since it does look like Jed is a lonely sort of man. Why Jed specifically chose Joe is an unanswered question in this movie. We just had to accept Jed became enamoured with Joe.
Now Joe is not an unattractive man. He is involved in a relationship with a sculptor that seems perfectly normal but actually the relationship was cooling off for sometime. There lacks passion and his girlfriend through her work of art no longer find Joe as alluring or mysterious as she did before as she once said she couldn't sculp someone that she loves, and Joe later found his own face sculpted and he knew Claire no longer feels that way for him. She wasn't entirely encouraging or sympathetic either. When Joe first told her about Jed, she listened but after a while she stopped listening and when Joe saw Jed on the street opposite his house, he asked Claire to the window, urgently. Instead of doing just that, she dismissed his fears and went back to sleep. Granted Joe was panicking a lot but somehow she didn't seem such a concerned girlfriend. And when Jed approached her and told her his lies, she stood there without much to say to defend Joe which made Joe leave but of course Jed stabbed her to stop Joe from leaving.
One can understand Joe's fear and rising panic in himself. Jed is a bigger man than he was, and looked as manic. He is in no way displaying any traits of a homophobic man actually, just a man scared and haunted by an obssession of another. It is interesting how one tragedy brought them closer to each other and it takes another tragedy to break them apart. The story is narrated and unfolded slowly but consistently, there is no sleight of hand or some shocking revelation but somehow the story remains engaging throughout, especially that scene between Jed, Joe and Claire.
The ending was ambigous though. Until this day fans debated whether Joe and Claire reconciled. I can't remember what the book said but from what I can see, the girlfriend realised she was a jerk for disbelieving him, which was why she could not look Joe in his eyes when they were toasting one another. Some fans said it could be hurt or pain but I don't see Joe hurting her in anyway. She was't really the victim, she was the bystander and Joe the victim. In fact she hurt him by refusing to believe him. So when they sat down to have a picnic and toasting each other, it was like back to beginning of sorts, each making an effort to heal the rift. So in my interpretation when she refused or rather reluctantly looked into his eyes, it was more of shame that she didn't believe him than hurt that she suffered. So I suppose they got back together. What is great though is that manic eyes and sinister smile of Jed as we realised he was writing Joe a love letter. Now that is scary.
Poor Joe. What did he do to attract such unwanted attention?
Performance wise, it was mostly flawless.
Samantha Morton looked like she is half dead. Of course her Claire is a dimwitted fool who to me is the most discouraging girlfriend ever on the silver screen. She hasn't much to do actually so I can't comment much. She seems mostly dull, she has this blank look. Very difficult to describe her performance.
Rhys Ifans is a revelation simply because this was the underwear clad dirty best friend of Hugh Grant in Notting Hill. I could hardly recognise him since he gained a lot of weight here or rather in Notting Hill he was exceptionally thin. Now he is more famous as the one Sienna Miller is sleeping with. Interesting how she seems to date those within the circle of friends. Jude was good friends with Daniel, maybe still is. Daniel is good friends with Rhys. So the next stop is of course good friend of Rhys. Who knows? Anyway, I am just glad she is not in this movie and one would expect having dated so many talented men, she perhaps could have learned a bit of acting from them. Where was I? Oh yes, Rhys Ifans. Irish? What an accent but I could understand him. He looks messy in here, as he is in real life. His Jed is soft spoken, looks at Joe adoringly and much love. Daniel was right when he complimented his friend for his subtle performance. It was subtle but obviously subtle. His every stare, every eye contact and every gesture, almost romantic but so wrong. One of the best scene was when he met Joe on the street and Joe screamed at him to leave him alone but Jed, in front of everyone who cared to listen said loudly that perhaos Joe should stop seducing him with his eyes! Screaming like a jilted lover. Scary moment. An excellent performance of an increasingly mad lovelorn spurned lover.
Daniel Craig was excellent as well. His too was also a subtle performance. He was friendly with Jed at first but when he realised Jed didn't mean just friendship, he politely pushed Jed away until Jed refused to budge and that was when he became obssessed with being obssessed with. It's true! This is a movie where one man's obssession of another turned the other man into obssessed man himself. That's when he became scared, angry and then he exploded into rage. I love to watch the progression and I especially love the scene where he saw Jed and Claire together and when Claire didn't seem to believe Joe, he simply said alright and he just turned to leave! Fed up I'd say, why stick with one who refused to believe you eh? Daniel Craig is really good at playing a man who is stuck with increasing panic and yet managed to stay outwardly calm but innately he is breaking into pieces. It's all in the eyes and in here he adopts the intellectual look with the ugly huge glasses framing his slim face and highlighting the brilliant colour of his eyes. He was very slim in this movie, as slim as he was in L4yer Cake and a far cry from his Bond looks. Even with all the lines on his face and his thin body, I can understand Jed's obssession with him! The kissing scene between these two men were interesting as well, passionate for the crazy one and anger for the normal one. Overall a fantastic performance by Daniel Craig, and well supported by other actors as well, such as Bill Nighy. Somehow though I can't take Bill Nighy seriously as a serious actor because I kept thinking of Slartibartfast.
There are very few actors in here so there isn't much supporting cast.
Whilst the performances are generally excellent with the exception of a deadpan one, and the story whilst not entirely predictable but is quite suspenseful although very slow, it is the execution of the story that is the most interesting to me. The beginning scene with the balloon will draw you in, it will shock you and the lack of background music only helped to amplify and heighten the tension and that scene has my vote as one of the best on how to start a scene. The ending was memorable and scary as well whilst the shocker moment was what Jed did to Claire when Joe wanted to leave. I only wished there were more scenes between Jed and Joe, those confrontation scene although Joe's increasing paranoia and obsession is interesting to watch also.
Overall, an excellent movie in my opinion.
If you expect action packed film, this is not the one. Watch this for the story or even watch this for Daniel Craig and Rhys Ifans. It is slow but sure, silent, threatening and well acted. Enduring love? Interesting title.