Enduring Love Roger Michell
Published Nov 01, 2004In my neighbourhood, the pavement has been peeled back to reveal a gaping maw that exposes an enormous tangle of sinister looking black cables and cords. Presumably this is what makes urban civilisation run smoothly but it appears chaotic and primal. Enduring Love is about what happens when the smooth pavement of a harmonious relationship is peeled back and no one knows what to make of the exposed mess.
In this tingling adaptation of Ian McEwan's gripping novel, Joe Rose and girlfriend Claire have their idyllic life skewed by a freak incident in the pastoral countryside. To reveal the beginning and its bizarre fallout would destroy the dreamy "what will happen now?" feeling that the film achieves. Centring on Joe (Daniel Craig), the film weaves themes of obsessive love, biological determinism, romantic love and its fragile nature together effortlessly.
Craig is almost unwatchable, as his rigid face and eyes behind his glasses reveal a man of science caught up in forces he is not equipped to understand. Samantha Morton, as Claire, is muted and natural at expressing the pain of being helplessly sane and locked out of her partner's incipient madness. Screenwriter Joe Penhall and director Michell wisely depend on visual language and sound to avoid a literary adaptation; Joe's head blurred in the foreground against a sharply focused London says much more than a voiceover.
The music, initially linked to the appearances of Rhys Ifans as the madly obsessive Jed, escalates in cacophony until suddenly it becomes the background to Joe's brush with the edge. The amazing Ifans cues you that Michell also directed Notting Hill. Otherwise, you would never recognise the intelligent choices that make Enduring Love suspenseful and intense with a happy ending that feels comprehensible and cathartic, not cheaply won. (Paramount Classics)