An intelligent and gripping dramatic thriller, Enduring Love is a real rarity: a film better than the book it's adapted from. Daniel Craig is exceptional as Joe, a hard-nosed science expert whose world view is shaken after a botched rescue attempt at a ballooning accident leaves another man dead. He begins to obsess over what he could have done differently, while fellow rescuer Jed (Rhys Ifans) develops a dangerous crush on him. This is one love Joe could well do without.
The ingredients are here for a gay Fatal Attraction, but Roger Michell’s engrossing film is more thoughtful than such a glib description suggests. The script explores love (obviously), fate and biology vs passion. "We’re just stupid organisms," gripes Joe, but neither he nor the movie are quite prepared to accept that as fact.
"UNUSUALLY STRONG PERFORMANCES"
Michell’s The Mother was hugely impressive, but Hanif Kureishi's script held its characters in something approaching contempt. Joe Penhall, working from Ian McEwan's novel, gives his roles more warmth and humanity, aided by unusually strong performances. Craig - one of the most exciting actors in contemporary British cinema - is an imposing, muscular actor, yet conveys vulnerability, incredulity and fear before becoming fearsome himself as Joe's sanity frays around the edges. Samanthan Morton, as his artist partner, does a lot with little, her panda-wide eyes registering dismay as her loved one unravels. And Ifans manages to make a potentially vile character real; as much a pitiable victim of his own obsessions as Joe is.
There is a vein of dark humour throughout - Craig's verbal demolition of his adulterous brother-in-law; Ifans classroom rendition of a Beach Boys song - and a visual flair rare in British films that is evident from the breath-snatching opening to an image of a child's balloon drifting away, its distorted reflection illustrating Joe's turbulent state of mind. This picture isn't perfect, but it's ambitious, vigorous and deserves to be caught.