I didn’t know they made a movie of Enduring Love. I loved the book, but apparently the film doesn’t quite work:
“There is almost nothing in the movie that is not about love …. In a novel, or a poem, such concentrated attention would be hard to fault. On film, sadly, it feels as if somebody were sitting on your head.”
Postcript: NYT Interview with Rhys Ifans:
DAVID EDELSTEIN Many people will want to know how you go about playing a guy who’s so repulsive.
RHYS IFANS He’s head over heels in love. He’s not repulsive. I take issue with people who are hard on Jed. He’s the only character in that film who is capable of true love.
Q. The way you stare at Daniel Craig, it looks as if you’re trying to fill yourself up with him.
A. That’s completely what I did. I didn’t want to go the stereotypical stalker route. I’m not in a thriller of any sort; I’m in one of the most beautiful love stories ever told.
Q. You sing him Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You.” Were there other love songs in your head?
A. Every love song that’s ever been written was running through my head the whole time. I was learning how to flirt again, very schoolboyishly and clumsily. Jed is even filled with joy when Joe is angry at him. He just wants a response, regardless of whether that’s negative or positive. It’s like … like the purity of a child’s love for its mother. It’s not some homosexual obsession. It’s higher. Because he can’t explain this feeling to himself, he can only associate it with divinity because of its size.
I wonder if movie viewers will be able to see it this way. It’s pretty clear in the book that Jed is as much a symbol of purity as insanity, but I don’t know if that will come across in film.
Post-Postscript: Looks like the worst may be true:
Because Joe and Claire have done nothing to merit Jed’s increasingly scary attentions, the plotline makes Enduring Love seem like a stalker picture posing as an arthouse-ready existential wallow (rather like In the Bedroom, which could have been retitled John Cheever’s Death Wish). Enduring Love could have said useful things about the false intimacy conjured by chaos, but it mostly avoids the topic. It also loses interest in the question of how much responsibility Joe bears for his fellow rescuer’s death. The film’s inability to focus hobbles strong lead performances from Ifans (who invests what might have been just another unhinged role with ragged warmth) and from Craig and Morton as supposedly rational people whose love is crushed by fate.
The fact that the reviewer thinks this film is missing an opportunity to say “useful things about the false intimacy conjured by chaos” indicates that either the reviewer misses the point or the film is totally not in the spirit of the book. It would be obvious to think Jed is experiencing “false intimacy conjured by chaos”, but the book is suggesting the opposite.