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 »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[talking to a stranger walking by]
Hey! Will you marry me? Please.
Why do you wanna marry me?
I could think of a lot of reasons if I weren't so drunk.
Why are you so drunk?
I dunno. The nights are too long.
The nights are too long because you have no one to share them with.
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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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