Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Unrequited Love Leads to Gay Fatal Attraction in Thinly-Veiled Slasher Flick
If you don't have the range to play anything other than the same sort of comedic role as an over-the-top oddity, maybe you shouldn't try to ply your trade as a dramatic actor. Case in point, Rhys Ifans. The gangly Welsh goofball found fame by upstaging Hugh Grant in Notting Hilll by striking a series of bodybuilder's poses in his tighty-whities.
Since then, Hollywood has asked Rhys to return to slight variations on the theme in such outings as The Replacements, Human Nature and Danny Deckchair. But because of his scene-stealing antics, he tends to stick out like a sore thumb. And while that might work with humorous material, it spells disaster for a relatively-solemn mood piece like Enduring Love.
The film was adapted by director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) from the Ian McEwan best seller of the same name. How many times have I said the book was better? 947. Well, make that 948. For the 272-page novel has been trash-compacted beyond recognition into a virtually-unwatchable affair.
Though the compromises have rendered the picture into little more than a shadowy, silhouetted stalking flick, it nonetheless insists on masquerading as an introspective examination of human relationships. As the story opens, we find the profoundly-disturbed Jed (Ifans) developing a crush on Joe (Daniel Craig) at the scene of a tragic balloon accident. They and a couple of other strangers had vainly attempted to restrain a runaway dirigible hovering over the ground with a frightened young boy alone in its basket.
It doesn't matter to Jed that Joe isn't gay or that he was picnicking in the lush meadow that day in order to propose to his girlfriend, Claire (Samantha Morton). No, an aroused Jed misreads their incidental eye contact and sharing a prayer over a body as an excuse to stalk his prey for the next 90 minutes of the movie.
With a more persistent personality than Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, the lunatic shows up unannounced at Joe's job, at Joe’s home and everywhere, embarrassing the professor at work and giving his freaked-out fiancee reason to worry. But because Jed is little more than a nut, the audience is never fed a satisfactory reason to care.
Witness this typical bit of dialogue between the homosexual hunter and his game: "We can't go on like this, Jo-Jo." "I don't even know you, you mad bastard." These oil-and-water exchanges grow wearisome rather quickly. So, by the time Jed finally takes his frustration out on the object of Joe's affection, it's oh so anti-climactic. And we still haven't learned a thing about anybody's deeper motivations in this mess of a movie.
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for excessive profanity, gruesome violence and disturbing images.
Running time: 100 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Classics