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Giles De'Ath (Sir John Hurt) is a widower who doesn't like anything modern. He goes to movies and falls in love with movie star Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestly). He then investigates everything about the movie and Ronnie. After that, he travels to Long Island City, where Ronnie lives, and meets him, pretending that Ronnie is a great actor, and that's why Giles admires him.
When Giles lands at the airport in New York and drives thru the city all the trees are in full leaf as they would be in summer yet when he takes a cab to the motel on Long Island here are no leaves on the trees and it is obvious it is a different season. See more »
It is so difficult to know where I should begin, especially when, unlike you, I already know the ending. But let us say that this story began with end of another.
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Thomas Mann and Vladimir Nabokov visit Nova Scotia, 90210
Anonymous (that prolific author) of Swarthmore (see below) has ably dealt with the plot line. Suffice to say that, echoing "Death in Venice" and "Lolita," stuffy old English haute culture writer Giles De'Ath (John Hurt) becomes obsessed by American teen junk movie starlet Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley) and goes to Long Island to seek out the gorgeous creature in its habitat. And, unlike Gustav in Venice who perved from afar, Giles actually befriends the creature and its girlfriend. Despite Giles's (comparative) intellect, it's not terribly likely that even a dim heterosexual lad like Ronnie is going to be persuaded to go off into the setting sun with Giles who is an old 60 and crusty with it, but it's fun watching Giles trying to make it happen. There are some interesting interchanges - a touch of Nabokov as European high culture brushes with American pop culture, largely in mutual incomprehension, though Ronnie is pointed to a little useful American culture (Walt Whitman) by his unexpected English visitor.
John Hurt, once a creepy Caligula in the 1970's TV version of "I, Claudius" and later the protagonist in "The Elephant Man" does a perfect Giles with wild emotion just in check beneath the old fogey exterior. He looks and acts very much the same as another great English actor, Michael Gough did as Ruskin, another literary panjandrum barely able to contain himself. I was also reminded of the late Sir Kingsley Amis, an angry young man and an engaging writer in his day who became a rather sorry figure in old age, bereft of his talent and full of spleen and booze. Giles, though, is much more controlled. Jason Priestley of "Beverley Hills 90210" is also perfectly cast, though he doesn't have to do more than be Brandon, the nice all-American male bimbo. As Ronnies' girlfriend Audrey, Fiona Loewi does a subtle job. Initially appearing to be no brighter than Ronnie, Audrey reads the situation much more quickly than he does. Or at least her turf protection instincts are pretty acute. There are nicely observed minor roles from Sheila Hancock as Giles's housekeeper, Elizabeth Quinn as a motel proprietor and Maury Chaykin as Irv, chef at the local Diner.
Locationwise, this film is a bit of a fraud. Having promised us Long Island in the title (and storyline), the producers gave us Halifax, Nova Scotia instead, in return apparently for a bit of government film corporation money. Well, it looks the same as Long Island, but if I were the Nova Scotia film corp. people I'd feel a bit foolish. What's the point in using public money to promote your local landscape and character when people think its somewhere else? It's true most films can be made anywhere (look what comes out of Fox in Sydney) but in some films the geography is crucial. I just hope they don't make "Shipping News" in Long Island instead of Newfoundland.
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