‘Enduring Love’ holds strong in nightmares
It’s hard to believe that the same director of the fluffy and lightly entertaining “Notting Hill” could come up with something as grotesque as “Enduring Love.”Again, you’d have to go to a small metropolitan cinema or a special showing at a place like the Vilar Center of the Arts in Beaver Creek to catch such a film. For all of its disturbing elements, I’m happy for the opportunity to see these rare, or, as Denver film critic Walter Chaw says, “little” films.
Chaw was on hand, having undergone no transit issues whatsoever this week, to introduce and discuss the film Monday evening at the Vilar. It was the second in the three-part Vail Symposium series from the Toronto Film Circuit that wraps up next week with a screening of “In This World.”I’m sure many in the audience were grateful for Chaw’s warning that “Enduring Love” is “an uncomfortable film” to watch, especially those twittering about how “Notting Hill” is one of their favorite films.The discomfort comes right at the beginning when the story opens with Joe and Claire (Daniel Craig and Samantha Morton) having a romantic picnic in a beautiful, vast, green field outside of Oxford, England. No sooner does Joe struggle with the bottle of champagne when a hot air balloon topples out-of-control into the grass, spilling the peace which was obviously not going to last longer than three minutes.The balloon is manned by an old man and a small boy. While the old man somersaults out of the basket as it and the rest of the balloon is being dragged sideways along the field, the boy remains inside. Joe sprints towards the rope, which has become twisted around the old man’s leg, and makes it his manly duty to attempt to help. A few other random men in the vicinity have the same impulse. A doctor screeches to a halt on a road when he sees what’s unfolding, and sprints from his car, a farmer grabs onto the rope, and a scruffy guy who happens to be in the area also grabs hold of the runaway balloon. My first idea in seeing all this was that, “little” film or not, this production must have had a large budget for these types of special effects.
As a gust of wind lifts the balloon upright and into the air, complete with a super vivid camera shot from the basket of the men dangling as the vessel takes flight, all of the rescuers suddenly drop to the ground save the doctor, who clings to the rope as the balloon gains altitude.The sequence of all the men standing to watch the balloon become smaller in the distance as a doll-sized man flails at the end of a rope is disturbingly realistic. Then, the camera pans back to the balloon’s basket where the boy is crouched holding his knees, looking puzzled and terrified, oblivious of the presence of his last would-be rescuer who suddenly lets go of the rope and falls out of the sky. The image of him horizontal and kicking during his fall is repeated more than once, and just when I thought this was all the horror I needed to see, Joe and the scruffy guy go looking for him. We get a nauseatingly graphic close-up of him squashed into the ground.As the scruffy guy, Jed (Rhys Ifans), begs Joe to kneel and pray with him in front of the doctor’s disfigured remains, Joe reluctantly agrees and an obsession is born.It’s probably difficult to make a film about an obsession that is anything but disturbing, but British director Roger Michell leaves no holes barred. The eeriness lies in how convincing the characters are, and how realistically so many unsettling scenarios transpire – Jed and Joe kissing as Jed holds a bloody knife, attempted and successful murder, self-inflicted pain, etc.
It’s no surprise that this film was yanked from the mainstream, but, besides the nightmares about falling out of hot air balloons and crushed limbs I’m sure to have for the next few weeks (this is why I don’t usually see anything labeled “thriller”), this one was worth seeing. Chaw has been saying that next week’s “In This World” by director Michael Winterbottom – the final film in the series – is the best of the lot. Tickets are $8 and are available at the box office, by phone, 970-845-TIXS, or at http://www.vilarcenter.org.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Vail Colorado