Jude, a college literature professor, falls for one of his students. She is more interested in the empirical experience of a relationship with a man whose life is ruled by the themes of the... See full summary »
Following the break-up of his marriage after revealing his homosexuality, GP Martin Wyatt loses custody of his son Oliver to his now ex-wife Hannah and her new partner Frank. It is not long... See full summary »
A teenaged boy goes for a ride with his brother and the brother's friends, who proceed to rob a store and murder the clerk. They are caught and, despite the young boy's protestations, he is... See full summary »
This short film was packaged on video with Hartley's featurette "Surviving Desire." It follows a day in the life of a young artist who longs for professional success and the attention of ... See full summary »
NED RIFLE is the third and final chapter of Hal Hartley's tragicomic epic begun with HENRY FOOL (1997, TIFF) and continued with FAY GRIM (2007). At once a saga concerning the Grim family of... See full summary »
A commercially realistic but artistically conflicted playwright lends his Berlin apartment to a young actress friend so she can rehearse her drama school audition while he goes off to save his doomed production in New York.
Hartley's conscientious assistant in Berlin receives weekly letters from her boss and sends him the books he needs as he struggles in Amsterdam to create the staging for Dutch composer Louis Andriessen's opera, "la Commedia."
Jude, a college literature professor, falls for one of his students. She is more interested in the empirical experience of a relationship with a man whose life is ruled by the themes of the Russian Lit. he extolls in class. Jude shows an interesting side of the stigmas associated with transgenerational relationships and how to deal with the inevitable pain of a love doomed to failure. Written by
Mike Bush <email@example.com>
A bit precious, even for him, but still fascinating
It's very difficult to review a Hal Hartley movie after just one viewing. Like the best directors who walk the line between the avant-garde and the mainstream (David Lynch and Peter Greenaway are two others who come to mind), he makes films that require at least one and probably several additional viewings to properly absorb things. If you're willing to give his style a real chance, man, can he be a delightfully strange talent. In his early films at least, he combines brittle, talky screenplays, full of literary allusion and rhetorical question, with poker-faced performances and sudden moments of surprising physical comedy. Usually these elements come together around a story of genuine emotional resonance, with `Trust' perhaps being the finest example.
`Surviving Desire' has all of these things. Where it fits into the overall scheme of Hartley pictures is hard to say, as I've only seen it once. But compared to his other early work, I found it a bit on the precious side, even for him. The academic setting gives Hartley free rein to indulge his penchant for literary reference, and there are times when you wish he was dealing with `simpler' people, as he does so well in `Trust' and `Simple Men' and even `Amateur.' Self-absorbed, world-weary, hyper-intellectual Jude occasionally seems to be a prototype for the satirical title character of `Henry Fool,' but without the irony, or at least without the same kind of irony. At the film's worst moments, its characters resemble those of Wes Anderson's twittering, twee nonsense films, or Whit Stillman's.
At the same time, the emotional core you would hope to find at the center of things IS there, and the characters never truly cross the line into obnoxiousness. The screenplay glances wittily over several centuries' worth of amorous clichés, and in the end the film is still a fascinating experiment, even if it doesn't have the rapturous beauty of some of the director's other efforts. Recommended. It's hard to assign a numerical rating, of course, but for now let's say 7.5.
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