Cast: Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton
Director: Roger Michell
Cinema Release date: 29 November 2004
No, don’t panic – Enduring Love is not some kind of soppy love story with soft lighting and waves crashing. This movie has been described as a “psychological thriller” and is based on the book by the same name by Ian McEwan. The book was fantastic, and I went along to the movie with some trepidation that it was going to ruin my memory of this great story. Much to my surprise, I found the movie as enthralling and uncomfortable (but in a good way) to watch as I had found the book to read.
The first few minutes of the movie see Joe (Daniel Craig) and Claire (Samantha Morton) spending an idyllic afternoon in the Oxfordshire countryside when disaster strikes – a hot air balloon crashes and loses control with a teenage boy inside. Joe and others rush to assist and in the subsequent confusing drama, one of the good samaritans dies. The rest of the movie follows Joe and Claire as they each deal with the tragedy, specifically focusing on Joe’s relationship with fellow rescuer, Jed (Rhys Ifans), who slowly becomes more intrusive in Joe’s life. Joe becomes obsessed by the accident and searches for something to absolve him of the guilt he is feeling at “letting go” – both of the balloon, and of life. Jed’s obsession with Joe reaches its formulaic, Hollywood conclusion, but the final scene of the movie sees Joe in a mental institution, continuing to write letters to Joe – a sign of his enduring love.
Jed’s obsessive presence and Joe’s not-always-understandable responses are frustrating to watch, but this is the point – a group of individuals, each of which are slowly letting go. It should be uncomfortable. This discomfort is further exacerbated by long silences and the amplification of day-to-day noises, such as chewing, rustling papers and puling curtains. What we are witnessing is Jed’s enduring love and Joe enduring being loved – a subject and a victim of love. The stalking component of the movie is subtle and we do not know until the end of the movie whether to feel sorry for, or wary of, Jed’s obsession.
The movie asks, “is there such a think as enduring love?” The answer, seemingly, is yes.