Monday, April 12, 2010

Up, Up and Away

by Jason Pyles

“Enduring Love” is another odd little film in the neighborhood of “All the Little Animals.” It’s sort of surprising that it was ever made, but I suppose I’m glad it was.

It has one of the most intriguing curtain-raisers I’ve ever seen in a film. As far as inciting incidents go, this one takes the cake. It has to do with a hot air balloon accident. In case anyone reading this hasn’t seen it and plans to, I won’t discuss it here. But I must say that the filmmakers did a great job filming the scene; it must have been a logistical challenge.

Unfortunately, “Enduring Love” has the second-act blues, where it sags badly in the middle. If only the balloon accident figured into the story more. Actually, that’s not the story at all; it’s a story of stalking and obsession.

In addition to the balloon scene, there’s a deeply creepy scene in the middle of the film, where a man is sitting on a playground in the rain. It’s truly chilling. Also, there’s a heart-stopping scene toward the end that is absolutely horrifying. These three moments make this unusual film worth seeing, just for their ability to give us such troubling cinematic experiences.

Otherwise, “Enduring Love” lulls and lulls. It took me three nights to watch it, because I kept falling asleep during the long second act. This is no reflection, of course, on the wonderful performances given by Daniel Craig (the new 007) and Rhys Ifans, who is probably best known for his role as the terrible roommate in “Notting Hill.” More recently he played in “The Boat That Rocked” aka “Pirate Radio,” once again, alongside Bill Nighy, who is also in “Enduring Love.”

I don’t know that I’ve seen any other film with a similar usage of a hot air balloon. It reminded me of a real-life horror story I once heard: I have a friend whose father worked at an upscale, rural resort. If I remember correctly, they knew a hot air balloon instructor there, and he was giving a lesson or something. I guess a kid was in the balloon and for one reason or another, the instructor was outside the balloon and it started taking off, so the instructor dutifully and bravely held onto the the outside of the basket and ended up dying from being beaten to death as he was dragged through the tree-tops. Awful.

Every year (while living in Utah), my family enjoys attending the hot air balloon show that’s part of the Freedom Festival in Provo, around the Fourth of July. Standing among those giants is truly awe-inspiring, but it reinforces my decision not to ride in one. And now “Enduring Love” pretty much seals the deal.

1 comment:

Andy Howell said...

Jason - I almost never read your review until I've posted my own so that I can keep some objectivity. I'm glad to see that you also thought the movie was slow in the middle, but that the acting itself was superb. It makes me feel smarter when I think like you do.