Enduring Love Roger Michell

One doesn't expect fireworks from a film about a ballooning accident, but that's just what you get from this gently disturbing drama. Daniel Craig is a depressively rational writer and professor who happens upon the scene of said ballooning accident and tries to help, with the result being a man's death. He tries to put the event behind him, but really he's devastated, and his conscience continues to bother him as a fellow witness (Rhys Ifans) obsessively stalks him and rubs the event in his face. The film (based on an Ian McEwan novel) walks an interesting tightrope as the two men face off; Ifans is clearly unhinged and dangerous, but he also forces Craig to rethink his dismissing of emotion in both his life and his work. Director Roger Michell presents the story with a slight chill: dropping its protagonist into a quagmire of antiseptic greens and languid pacing, he creates the right molasses-slow atmosphere to gum up Craig's frantic inner anguish. Everything is precise without being obtrusive, making you aware of the melancholy mood before you can apprehend what the director is doing to get it. The actors are similarly understated, with stellar turns by Bill Nighy as a friend and associate and Samantha Morton as Craig's increasingly perturbed partner, as well as a big surprise for those who only know Ifans as the Welsh goofball from Notting Hill (ironically, also directed by Michell). I suppose the film stops just short of brilliance; it brings more ambiance than understanding to the material, but it still provides the right frame to McEwan's story and the right nuance to its still life with balloon. (Paramount)