Love and Death on Long Island
Many people don't know how to classify this film. When I rented it at Hollywood Video, the tape cover said it was a comedy, but that was scratched off and drama was written in by hand. While the film has been billed as a comedy, I agree with the person who wrote drama on the cover. Love and Death in Long Island is a tragic study of one man's emotional death and rebirth.
In this big screen adaption of Thomas Mann's 1913 novella, Death in Venice, John Hurt stars as British author Giles De'Ath. Lonely since the death of his wife, De'Ath is out of touch with the modern world. This becomes apparent to him when he gives a rare radio interview and comes off as an old fogey. One day, he is locked out of the house and wanders to the local cineplex. He purchases a ticket to another film, but accidentally walks into the teenage romp, Hotpants College 2. Just when he is ready to leave the theater, De'Ath's attention is grabbed by young heartthrob Ronny Bostock (Jason Priestly). De'Ath feels he sees a beauty and talent in the actor that no one has ever found before. Slowly, he becomes obsessed with the actor and decides to travel to Chesterton, Long Island to meet him.
What is his motive for going to Chesterton? Will he find Ronny?
John Hurt gives a stunning performance as the sad, desperate man whose judgement is clouded by his irrational obsession and burning desire to care about anything that will make him feel alive again. He is able to show his character's struggle with the modern world. De'Ath almost seems like a relic who has been unfrozen.
Priestly and his co-star, Fiona Loewi, also deserve praise for their performance. Priestly, someone familiar with being a teenage heartthrob not thought of for his acting ability, is able to create a character who wants to believe he is as wonderful and talented as De'Ath thinks his is, but probably isn't. Bostock seems to be a second rate actor struggling to be a great actor. Loewi is wonderful as Bostock's girlfriend who (MINOR SPOILER AHEAD) is fascinated with De'Ath and seems to be in love with him, whether it be a romantic love or the love of a woman for a father figure.
Writer/Director Richard Kwietniowski creates an eerie mood that draws in the audience. In a strange way, we find ourselves routing for De'Ath, hoping he can find Bostock and admiring his ingenuity. It's hard to create a sympathetic character who also seems to be a mentally disturbed stalker, but Kwietniowski and Hurt do so in this film.
Check it out this weekend.
Written and Directed by Richard Kwietniowski
John Hurt .. Giles De'Ath
Jason Priestly Ronny Bostock
Fiona Loewi .. Audrey
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