Stars: *** 1/2
Rating: R for violence and language
Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Director Roger Michell (The Mother) has crafted an Hitchcockian-inspired entertainment that haunts to the last frame.
Deconstructing guilt is juicy with potential, never more so than in this tale of survivors asking why. Why were Joe and Claire picnicking in that particular pastoral English field when a bright red hot air balloon broke from its moors with a young boy still in its basket? Why did a total stranger stop his car and race across the field to help, only to find himself dangling from a rope with the other would-be rescuers before dropping to his death?
More immediately, why is fellow savior Jed Parry (Rhys Ifans) coming round to Joe’s (Daniel Craig) place, desperate to unload his feelings but seemingly reluctant to verbalize them? Joe is having troubles of his own, struggling with the guilt of surviving the accident and taking it out on sculptress squeeze Claire (Samantha Morton).
As Joe and Claire slowly disconnect, Jed becomes more insidious with each passing encounter. In a burst of ragged emotion he admits to an enduring love for Joe and insists that Joe returns the feelings in kind. Complicit or crazy?
With a swell of orchestra gone mad and a dilatory descent into self-pity Joe’s irrational torture gains ground. Culpability and fear render him churlish and petty and seemingly capable of danger. As relationships fray so do Joe and Jed’s fragile psyches.
Enduring Love’s imagery is stunning, from the symbolic red balloon to spare and artsy close-ups. Craig’s psychological pain festers to the point of irritation (get a grip, man!) but drags the nail-biting narrative to its bitter end. Ifans does fanatical obsession with hair-raising flair.
Intellectual thriller cum creepy stalker drama, Love is skilled emotional fare that grabs hold and doesn’t let go.