Love and Death on Long Island (1997) Poster

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7/10
Thoughtful & interesting interpretation of bridging the generation gap
raymond-1510 May 2004
What a wonderful piece of acting John Hurt gives us as Giles a naive English writer visiting Long Isalnd for the first time. Completely obsessed with the discovery of all the modern electronic gadgetry, he purchases TV and video equipment, shuts himself away and enters a new and exciting world.

He becomes besotted with the image of a handsome young actor Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley) a favourite among teen-age movie-goers. It's as if he is starting a completely new life with a new warmth he has never known before.

The urge to help Ronnie in his career so that he will always be close to him is the predominant theme of the film. John Hurt's performance as the older man restraining his true feelings for a handsome young man of another generation is faultless and truly absorbing. Conversations between the two men are the highlights of the film and the confession scene extremely moving.

Ronnie Bostock's girl friend Audrey ( Fiona Loewi) is both charming and beautiful and adds a sweet touch to the story. She is responsible for bringing the writer and actor together. The story is punctuated with little episodes of wry humour brought about by people who live entirely different lives.

Altogether a very satisfying film that shows how some of us live in a cocoon unaware of the extreme joy and subsequent disappointment that lies beyond.
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Ultimately, a slow, witty work with one outstanding feature.
walshio15 December 1998
"A puerile romp without a single redeeming feature."

That's what an imaginary Sight and Sound review gives the trashy teenage exploitation film Hotpants College 2. However, for "erstwhile fogey" and famous English writer Giles De'Ath (John Hurt) this Porky-esque flick, which he watches purely by accident (he meant to see an E.M Forster adaptation) has one very redeeming grace. It contains the love of Giles' life – Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley).

This witty and poignant film, which divides itself between London and Long Island, may have faltered badly if it had been left in lesser hands than John Hurt. However, Hurt is simply mesmerising. He is one of the few actors who never shies away from making the audience utterly ill at ease – watch 1984, the monster shooting out of his stomach in Alien or The Elephant Man for confirmation.

Self-exiled from the modern world in his stuffy flat, with a picture of his recently deceased wife by his writing desk, and a fussy maid (Sheila Hancock) tending to his every whim, Giles' emotions are thoroughly repressed. Until, that is, fate lends a hand and exposes Giles to, amongst other things, terrible American teenage movies, video stores, fax machines, One Man and His Dog, and, finally, to his own sexual desires.

Love and Death in Long Island is brimming with quirky cameos, including weirdo diner owner Irv (Maury Chaykin), a motel manager (Elizabeth Quinn) reminiscent of Shelley Winters in Lolita, and a surprisingly good Priestley (lampooning his "bimbo" soap background much like Maxwell Caulfield in The Real Blonde).

However, it is ultimately a "warts and all" performance from Hurt that holds our gaze. Dignified, perplexed and slightly tragic, Hurt makes Giles one of the most touching "stalkers" in film history. Much like James Mason's Humbert in Lolita, Giles is a man of culture finding beauty in youth, in coarseness - in "all that I myself have never been."

Ultimately, a slow, witty work with one outstanding feature.
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Thomas Mann and Vladimir Nabokov visit Nova Scotia, 90210
Philby-326 April 1999
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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10/10
Subtle and compelling
jwalzer510 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Teaming a veteran like John Hurt with Jason Priestley would seem to be a casting director's nightmare. Surprisingly, this film takes that premise and runs with it - very convincingly. John Hurt plays a tired, lonely writer (Giles) who is completely out of touch with the modern world, and Jason Priestley, in a touching and thoughtful performance (keep in mind that part of his performance is self-parody), is the object of Hurt's desire. Hurt first comes across Priestly as, "Ronnie Bostock," a forgettable, hunky presence in Grade-Z cinematic atrocities like, "Hotpants College II." Some viewers have mistakenly seen this film as a reworking of Mann's, "Death in Venice," but this film is different: while retaining the poignancy of old age (Hurt), it injects new life into Pristley's character, and allows the viewer to think of him as much more than an object, fruitlessly pursued. There is a key scene at a roadside café late in the film, where Hurt makes an offer he has no right to offer, and Priestley is confronted with a choice he shouldn't have to make. It is a key moment in the film, beautifully handled by both actors, and illustrates the simple power of human drama, devoid of a $100,000,000 special effects budget. And there is, thank God, no happy, artificial, manufactured resolution. This is a film for connoisseurs, and is well worth a look. One last note: the explicit "gayness" of John Hurt's character brought out the worst in some homophobic critics. Their whining only validated John Hurt's performance. Giles is paranoid and defensive because he's never been offered an alternative. Society has not treated Giles with either civility or decency, and he bears the scars of that mistreatment. A life lived in the closet is a waste, and Giles' insular life, uncontaminated by humanity, is a brutal commentary on the destructiveness of such an existence. Both Ronnie and Giles, one straight man and one gay man, are prisoners of society and the quality of their lives, to society's discredit, have been needlessly compromised and diminished. A wonderful film and a deeply disturbing commentary.
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9/10
A gem of a film
MeYesMe9 August 1998
After viewing this film I wished it was 20 years ago, back when you were allowed to just stay in your chair and see the show a second time.

John Hurt is astounding as an English author who discovers beauty the last place he'd expect to find it - in an American "B" movie actor's performances. Hurt's character, Dr. De'Ath, is a true original, totally out of step with the 20th century. He simply had no need nor interest in modernizing his ways. He stumbles upon the work of Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley, in a heckuva good, self-effacing performance) and sees in him talent and passion. That's about all I can say without going too far into plot - but if I were able to physically compel people to see it, I certainly would. It's a lovely piece of work.
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Has John Hurt ever been better?
azeemak11 August 2002
John Hurt is a great actor, and his performance in this film shows just how great. There have been plenty of reviews here that detail the plot and the essential characteristics of Giles De'Ath. What struck me even more on seeing the film a second time is what an extraordinary balancing act Hurt pulls off. De'Ath could so easily have been a caricature, a bumbling old fogey; Hurt shows that, while he is indeed out of touch, he is also highly intelligent and unapologetic about his fusty ways - and he also has the imagination to broaden his horizons. There were some lovely scenes showing other people's amused reactions to his naivety about modern ways, particularly those with his agent.

I've never seen Jason Priestley in anything else (hey, does that mean I'm like De'Ath, an old fuddy-duddy?), but he certainly holds his own in the face of an acting titan, just as Brendan Fraser did in Gods & Monsters - and yes, there are a LOT of similarities between the two films. And I really enjoyed Fiona Loewi's performance as his girlfriend - what else has she done? The smaller roles were extremely well cast (as others have noted, Maury Chaykin is a treat), even De'Ath's sister-in-law, who is only in one brief scene, but conveys a lot about how highbrow and inaccessible his novels are considered to be.

I'm also not the only one who has noticed echoes of Death in Venice, not only in the title and the storyline, but also, I'll swear at one point there was a Mahler symphony playing on the soundtrack - was that another nod? Then there is the artistic convention of the older mentor and the younger muse, which is explicitly raised in the film. There are a lot of interesting ideas about the nature of love, and about how even the most set in their ways can suddenly find a new lease of life.

This is a film that rewards more than one viewing. See it if only for a truly majestic performance from John Hurt, a masterclass in subtlety, defiance and thwarted passion.
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8/10
Giles And Ronnie
bkoganbing27 July 2009
In the climax scene when John Hurt finally confesses to Jason Priestley why he's insinuated himself into his life, Hurt brings up such couples as Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, Jean Cocteau and Raymond Ratiguet. Watching the film I thought of another of Cocteau's famous same sex liaisons, Cocteau and actor Jean Marais. It seems closest to what Hurt fantasizes for himself with Priestley.

With an obvious bow to Thomas Mann who wrote about a similar story in Rome, Love And Death On Long Island concerns a middle aged writer with the gruesome name of Giles De'Ath played by John Hurt. He's a cultured gay man who lives alone and has pretty much let life pass him by. He does without television, a computer, but is persuaded to go to the cinema in London which he hasn't visited in over 20 years because an adaption of one of E.M. Forster's stories is on the bill.

Instead he buys a ticket for a teen sex comedy flick, Hot Pants College II and is struck dumb by the physical beauty of one of the cast members, Jason Priestley. It happens to all of us be it the same or the opposite sex, but Hurt decides he has to get close to him and never mind those pesky laws about stalking.

He researches his love object from, where else, those adolescent teen magazines. And finding out he lives in the Hamptons out in Suffolk County, Hurt goes to America and then takes that long ride from Penn Station out to the Hamptons to see if he can arrange an 'accidental' meeting.

It works beyond Hurt's wildest expectation, though Priestley's girl friend, fashion model Fiona Loewi doesn't know quite what to make of Hurt. How it all ends you have to see the film for.

Jason Priestley certainly didn't have to do much research to play teen idol Ronnie Bostock. He was fresh from 90210 as Brandon Walsh and certainly his life was its own research. He could have played it shallow and that would have been an easy and acceptable way out, but Priestley taps some deeper emotions in his performance.

Love And Death On Long Island was shot on Nova Scotia which certainly passes for the Hamptons. This review is dedicated to that duo that Hurt had aspiration of emulating, Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais.
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8/10
Fascinating, with great execution by John Hurt.
Hermit C-24 October 1999
John Hurt just doesn't get the credit he deserves, I think. He's a consistently great actor who often adds so much more to a film than many other bigger names would. This film is a prime example of him taking a role and truly making it his own.

Hurt plays Giles De'Ath, a most formal English author who, as a radio interviewer puts it, doesn't have much use for the 20th century. He would have even less use for a movie named 'Hotpants College II,' except that when he accidentally happens to view it, he's struck like a thunderbolt by the vision of an actor on the screen, Ronnie Bostock, played by Jason Priestly. From that moment on, De'Ath comes to life in his obsession for the young man and his elaborate plans to meet him. Having been taken care of by a housekeeper these many years, De'Ath struggles with the most ordinary tasks as he lives out his obsession. He buys teenage girls' magazines at the newsstand and furtively disposes of them lest anyone find out his secret. He purchases a videocassette recorder to watch Ronnie's films, not realizing that a television is also necessary for their viewing. Then when he goes to Bostock's home town on Long Island in hopes of tracking him down, he's almost like The Man Who Fell to Earth, being alone in such an alien culture. His behavior is as obsessive as any stalker, but he must be the most genteel stalker there ever was.

Watching Hurt go through this routine during the movie's first half is so fascinating and so entertaining that the film actually hits a bit of a stall when he finally does meets the object of his desire, but it rights itself quickly and comes to a nice conclusion. Some might hope for a more wildly dramatic ending, but I was satisfied.

Jason Priestly does a fine job here in what is basically a thankless role, in that by this film's nature, he's constantly upstaged by Hurt's performance, like Othello is by Iago, or Nick Nolte was by Eddie Murphy in '48 HRS.,' if that's not too jolting of a comparison. I found it fascinating, what some might call a "little" film except that it displays some large talents.
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8/10
A slow-burn character study....
lancekoz55-128 January 2017
I recently re-saw this some years after my first viewing, and in spite of its humble mission and budget, it's still arresting and touching. A mere plot summary does not do justice to the excellent acting, the thoughtful details and dry British wit that bubbles throughout. I highly recommend it to anyone who cares about stories based on clever scripts, great acting and real characters... and especially if you value the stories of the closeted gays who lived among us.

I would give it a 9 or 10 if it did not provide some strange side trip details that don't add much except minutes to the consistency of the whole. Small complaint for a strong movie. Impress your friends/lovers with this one, almost no one has seen it in the States, I bet.
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Wonderful and unique character study
pooch-83 February 1999
Locked out of his apartment, old-fashioned writer Giles De'Ath (John Hurt) almost reluctantly decides to take in a movie. Accidentally wandering in to see Hot Pants College II instead of the E.M. Forster adaptation for which he bought a ticket, the lonely man becomes transfixed by the sight of a hunky actor (Jason Priestley) and begins an obsession that makes for a thoroughly satisfying and entertaining story. First-time director Kwietniowski expertly observes the wildly disparate natures of these two men while keeping both of them entirely credible and believable. I particularly enjoyed Giles' compilation of Ronnie Bostock clippings from teeny-bopper magazines, carefully arranged and titled "Bostockiana" before being securely locked away in a desk drawer.
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Worth a look
DannyBoy-1717 April 1999
"Do you own a word processor?"

"I WRITE. I do not PROCESS words."

Giles De'Ath is a frail man on the verge of suffocating on high 19th century culture: he is sheltered within cafes, cigars, E.M. Forster, and presentations of lectures like "The Death of the Future." As one radio commentator asks him, "Does the 20th century play ANY part in your life?"

Giles is utterly changed by witnessing truly LOW culture on the big screen, the film Hotpants College II that he mistakes for E.M. Forster's Eternal Moment. Upon going for a second viewing, Giles is ashamed of even saying the name of the movie at first. He is mesmerized by the image of one Ronnie Bostock, Mikey in the film, a waiter who gets pushed around and finally shoved onto a restaurant counter and covered with ketchup, making Mikey a Christlike martyr for the Porky's generation. When the movie fades to black and the end credits come up, the name RONNIE BOSTOCK literally shines through the eyes of Giles De'Ath. So begins Giles' reluctant but determined search for this Bostock. He's seen all Ronnie's films and is transfixed by his image (indeed, Ronnie's movies are the first thing he's ever seen on a TV or a film screen.)

The second act of the movie takes Mr. De'Ath to Chesterton, Long Island- the home of Ronnie Bostock. De'Ath learns little by little about the modern American culture as he amusingly stalks his way into Ronnie's home. He offers his devotion to the career of Ronnie Bostock, who has decided he wants to be taken seriously as an actor.

Giles introduces him to an idea for a movie: a deaf-mute who has never been outside in the real world, who in fantasy is surrounded only by white, empty space, has in his possession a television to look outwards. After enough images, this childlike deaf-mute wants to experience the real world and must do it through fulfilling the quest of falling in love.

Bostock loves the idea, but he just doesn't GET it about Giles. That's DE'ATH's story. (It's strange when seeing the vision of Priestley in that script. I found myself wondering the effect of Teletubbies upon children, who may be both deaf and mute in certain ways and learn how to reach out towards reality through surreal television images. It's both troubling and poignant...)

Giles De'Ath is in love with the image of Ronnie Bostock: regardless of how low his movies are, Ronnie has a "file of smiles" for different emotions, "a permanence" in his look. His martyred state on the counter resembles old paintings. His film work is what Shakespeare would have done as both his comedies and Hotpants College 2 were made "for the rabble in the pit."

However, Giles, somewhere along the way, realizes that he is ALSO "completely, desperately" in love with Ronnie Bostock.

I won't give away the ending. The film is low-budget, short, and it has basically only two developed characters. It doesn't have much of an effect afterwards, but it has real poetry to it, especially in Hurt's transformation from high culture shelter to low culture inspiration. I'm still not sure if this is a high-culture indie making fun of low culture, or a low culture movie trying to justify itself, as Giles tries to do for Ronnie. One reason I hated Boogie Nights, among many, is that it wanted us to sympathize with Mark Wahlberg's porn star but also allowed us to distance ourselves from him and laugh AT him anytime we wanted: that's cheating. This film gets it right- it's not sarcastic about Ronnie's work, though certainly we have reasons to laugh at it. We have to draw our own conclusions about these characters, about the LOVE we see that Giles has for the star. Is this REAL love, or is it even more than that?

I'm a lover of film, and there are images that I see that I will pause, and play in slow motion, especially now with quicktime clips on the Mac: the poetry of a certain face, like that of Jodhi May(Alice) in Last of the Mohicans right before she jumps off the cliff. There's a love there for her, for her image, that is indescribable for me, so I can appreciate and truly relish the story of a man enamored by an image.

I'm also always glad to see a film about a man who finds inspiration in modernity. We know by the end that Giles is entering a new kind of life: perhaps "The De'Ath of the Future" is somebody who accepts all culture. He sees the low in the high and the high in the low, and he makes no distinction between the "art" of images in the art gallery and those of your everyday teen flick.
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Average film, but stellar performance by Hurt
meitschi19 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
*POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THE SECOND HALF*

This was a film I was looking very much forward to, as I had just seen "Death in Venice" the day before, of which this is supposed to be a pastiche/parody. (Well, I think it is, in a way...)

I must say that I was a bit disappointed by the film itself, I wouldn't say it is really exceptional filmmaking - especially the dialogue and the general look of the movie could have been more spirited. But nevertheless it is a nice, entertaining film - with a stellar performance by John Hurt.

I didn't think about "Gods and Monsters" (one of my all-time favorites!) while watching this, though John Hurt's face constantly reminded me of Ian McKellen's (they even resemble each other physically in my view). But as so many people mentioned it here, now I think there are definitely some similarities in the storylines and characters of the two movies.

The "confession scene" at the end was the best and most moving of it all, wonderfully played by Hurt - and proving at last that Jason Priestley is a better actor than he has been given credit for. His facial reaction to the confession was most impressive and would have honored even an actor of higher reputation.

As for the interpretation of De'Ath's motives: I think this confession is indeed exactly the moment when he - under the pressure of never seeing Ronnie again as the teen flick star has to go to Vermont and then to L. A. - finally realizes that he is in fact in love with the young man and also desires him on the corporal level, not merely "admires his beauty without interest". (Otherwise he wouldn't mention explicitely to Ronnie that Verlaine and Rimbaud were lovers - even at the risk of losing him.) One can see during the conversation how De'Ath becomes more and more desperate as Ronnie seem more and more reluctant to listen to him - till he at last makes his fully revealing confession.

Ronnie's girlfriend (very nicely and naturally played by Fiona Loewi) seems to discover the truth about De'Ath earlier than her boyfriend - I think this happens in the scene where she proposes to Gilles to call his non-existing "god-daughter" (who is supposedly a fan of Ronnie's) and the older man gets embarrassed by this. I think it is also she who wants to take away Ronnie from De'Ath as soon as possible by taking him to Vermont and then to L.A. ("He doesn't know [about going to L.A.] yet", she tells De'Ath during the baseball match). However, I may be misinterpreting something here. But no matter - the look on De'Ath's face after Ronnie has made the homerun reveals about everything he feels for the young man...

I give it 7/10 (5/10 for the film, 10/10 for Hurt).
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Minor masterpiece
Boyo-227 January 1999
John Hurt and Jason Priestly are an unlikely pair, but they shine in this masterpiece of a movie. I wish this movie found an audience because it is worth a look. Each man is perfectly suited to his role.
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7/10
Simple film that works
refinedsugar7 November 2001
Love and Death On Long Island follows Giles (John Hurt) a semi recluse English novelist who wonders through his life with very little intense purpose, challenges or any sense of being 'alive'. That all changes when one day when he gets locked out of his house. Eventually he ends up wandering to the local cinema and mistakenly walks into Hotpants College II. "What rubbish". He's just about to leave when Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestly) appears on screen. He's mesmerized.

When he leaves the theater he's a different man. It's not long before Giles thinks and does nothing that doesn't revolve around Ronnie Bostock. He buys teeny bopper magazines featuring anything involving Ronnie. Makes a Ronnie Bostock scrapbook from hand including the pictures from the magazines and eventually he makes sure to view all of Ronnie's other movie exploits. He's a man consumed by one thought, one action. Obsession has taken over. Things get deeper as you can imagine when Giles sets out and actually meets Ronnie and befriends him.

John Hurt turns in another great performance in a long list of great performances and it's nice to see Jason Priestly doing something of worth. The supporting players are apt too. Sheila Hancock as Giles housekeeper kept reminding me of the God and Monsters Lynn Redgrave as James Whale's housekeeper. Fiona Loewi as Ronnie's girlfriend is a mite refreshing. She's not stupid or naive. We can see at one point she's figured out what is going on and what the "real" story is.

I guess it's a nice plus that some of the movie was shot in my home too -- Nova Scotia, Canada. I think it's always nice to see where you live in a movie. 'Hey, I know that place! That's Lawrencetown beach!' Now I suppose if you live in Los Angeles, New York or any big American city that supports motion picture filming that seeing your city/town isn't such a big deal. In any case Love and Death on Long Island is a movie bathed in human nature. It's a good watch on a rainy day.
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7/10
A somewhat disconcerting but curious film
Laitue_Gonflable11 July 2005
Love and Death on Long Island is an interesting, moody film, but it's difficult to decide if I truly felt satisfied having viewed it.

What we are presented with is essentially a fish out of water story about Giles (John Hurt), an ultra-conservative English gent who begins slowly to reform his technophobic, insular lifestyle when he develops an interest in a young American film star (Jason Priestley). The nature of this interest is explored minimalistic ally, although there is obviously more to it than just a belief in the boy's acting talent or potential.

We are then treated to a myriad of culture shock as Giles enters the universe of youth and as we see this very quaint man with his very quaint, idyllic lifestyle interact with very common, happy-go-lucky people, his character becomes increasingly complex. This culminates in a rather impressionistic, elusive finale where his true interest in the film star, Ronnie, is finally explored and brought to light.

The film is at times wryly amusing and at other times cringingly awkward. For all its moments of social faux pas and clumsiness it reminds me a lot of Alexander Payne's films. The difference as I see it though is that Payne knows when to draw away from an embarrassing moment to make us empathise, but not altogether pity, the character. Here, the director Kwietniowski tends to hold our focus on such scenes which makes it notably less comfortable to watch.

Having said that, Kwietniowski does handle a number of the film's elements remarkably well. Firstly, his cast is used to their full potential. In particular, John Hurt's wonderfully expressive face is used to explore a plethora of human emotion throughout the film. Secondly, the interaction between the generations - old age, middle age and youth - is handled with a soft focus that is ever-present but very understated. Even if one feels a lack of rewards from the somewhat alienating story, at least we have the pleasure of hearing John Hurt say in a very charming British accent, "Hey dude, how's it hanging?" And basically, the plot is also downplayed to the point where the film is far more an exploration than an anecdote. Its pace is very deliberate and its threadbare cast of characters is rich and complex for all that they're worth. I would find it hard to truly love this film but it is still a very capable, interesting effort.

***1/2 / *****
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6/10
fabulous acting by John Hurt but very incredible story
MartinHafer31 December 2005
First I need to point out that John Hurt, as usual, does a fabulous job of acting in the film. I have always loved his work and he does himself credit by his performance. So, I feel a little bad about not liking the movie more than I did. The problem, for me, is that the plot and the pairing with Jason Priestly just didn't seem to make any sense. You see, Hurt is an elderly writer who is living WAY behind the times--owning no television, going to see no movies and living a quiet quiet and isolated life. Then, on a lark, he finally decides to go to a movie and enters the wrong theater. Instead of an E. M. Forrester film (or some other respected British writer), he walks into a theater showing a brain-dead teen movie (sort of like Porky's). However, once the movie begins, he is captivated by the actor, Priestly, and becomes infatuated with him. Then, he spends the next 75% of the movie going from Britain to Long Island to try to find and befriend Priestly. This just didn't make ANY sense at all. It's not because of the homosexuality, but it would have been equally silly and unbelievable if he'd fallen for some young female in the movie and spent the movie pursuing her.

Think about it--it would be like a writer with perhaps the reputation of a John Updike or Joseph Heller seeing Britney Spears on MTV and then dropping everything to pursue her!
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8/10
An Interesting "Love" Story
EmperorNortonII15 May 2002
"Love and Death On Long Island" has a fascinating story to tell. The hero is John Hurt as Giles De'Ath, a cultured, stuffy English writer with no grasp whatsoever on modern technology (he doesn't know you can't use a VCR without a TV!). He accidentally sees the slob comedy movie "Hotpants College II," and becomes enraptured with pretty-boy actor Ronnie Bostock, played by Jason Priestly. This inspires an obsession in Giles seen more commonly in teenage girls. This sudden burst of celebrity worship in Giles brings him to put forth the concept of finding beauty where one least expects it. The whole movie presents an intelligent story that Giles De'Ath himself would admire.
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8/10
John Hurt Tour de Force
gbheron30 November 1999
John Hurt delivers a wonderful performance of Giles De'Ath, a stuffy middle-aged English man of letters, so insulated from the modern world he doesn't understand that a VCR needs a TV set to operate. Insulated until he inadvertently stumbles into the wrong movie theatre one day and falls madly for an American B-movie hunk played by Jason Priestley. He becomes obsessed by this man, and eventually treks off to Long Island in search of the object of his affection.

Oddly, given the subject matter, this is a heart-warming and life-affirming film. Hurt is magnificent; it's his movie, and Priestly also gives an excellent performance. I highly recommend renting the movie.
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2/10
Love and Death on the Long Beach
rajdoctor5 April 2007
Love and Death on the Long Island Pathe chain of movies screen more than 50 films every 2 months of different genre, and I knew that they are going to screen this "gay classic" in one of their night shows. I read the reviews on IMDb and was keen to have a go at the movie. I had several motivations – first, it was called a "classic", second, I had never been to a night show alone in Amsterdam (so wanted to venture out and feel the city) and third, with curiosity I wanted to know more about the gay people of Amsterdam – who this people are? How do they behave? Are there any peculiarity / characteristic they possess? The movie is about a widower - who falls in love with a film icon while watching a movie, meets him, builds a contact, discloses his true love for the hero, and gets rejected.

Does not it sound familiar? So many times in our lives we have adored and loved our film icon. The premise was good. Sometimes the adulation turns into devotion and obsession. I know about physical and sexual fantasies one has around these film icons – mostly of hetero-sexual nature. But this film provides a new premise of love and sexual longing within the same sex. That concept is interesting, and the liberal mind of mine was able to empathies and accepts such story-line.

But the movie was badly made. The script was weak. It looked like a stage drama. The screenplay was also staged and over expressive. John Hurt seems to be a good actor but in this movie he was in wrong hands – the director, Richard Kwietniowski, who is famous for making short gay movies (and most of them are very poorly rated). Richard was lucky that he got John Hurt for this role.

The direction was poor. The movie looked like a "B" grade movie. Only saving grace was – at times – very good visual shots by cinematographer Oliver Curtis.

The dialogues were funny – but suitable for a stage drama. I heard some laughs during the movie and I could not make out whether it was because the scenes were funny or ridiculous.

Just a trivia, that the movie hall was 80% packed – with mostly middle aged and old men who came in couples or gangs. There were very few lonely riders like me. I guess there were only three women in the show – because those persons had long hair.

I give some grace for the concept and give 2.5 stars out of 10.

(Stars 2.5 out of 10)
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8/10
If you need a laugh; this is unusual....
MarieGabrielle11 September 2006
John Hurt is understated and quite funny as a repressed British author, who, on one quiet evening happens to rent "Hot Pants College" starring Jason Priestley as Ronnie Bostock.

The premise sounds silly and under-developed, but it isn't. John Hurt perfects the role, and becomes an aficionado of Ronnie Bostock's film "career" eventually learning that Bostock lives on "Chesterfield" Long Island, a fictional NY suburb.

He decides to visit, and help Bostock develop his career. Hurt is hysterical, as a capable Shakespearean actor quoting Walt Whitman, and educating Priestley as to what film roles he should take. Jason Priestley is also pretty funny, trying to get decent film roles as an American is not easy-..."he's so sick of playing stupid kids"... (his girlfriend whines).

John Hurt also makes a few endeavors to get Priestley to relocate to London- ..."you know Rimbaud and his patron/lover Paul Verlaine had quite a successful partnership"... Priestley thinks that Rimbaud is "Rambo"- if you don't get the joke, then you have the same problems Ronnie Bostock/Priestley has.

At any rate, this film is worth viewing. Intelligent and funny. 8/10.
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Disappointing effort could have been much better
inframan19 October 2001
When I read the reviews of this movie on its release I was eager to see it. It sounded quirky & interesting, not the usual predictable product of a Hollywood factory. Unfortunately, this shallow film is more TV sitcom than anything else, with talking cars, supermarket shopping-basket confrontations, a goofy landlady & a bunch of phony pseudo-Cheers diner patrons. Nothing rings true on either an emotional or satirical level. I'm surprised it didn't show up as a Fox series. In particular I found John Hurt's performance disappointingly indifferent. See Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters in a similar role & similar setup to appreciate what some dimensional acting might have wrought on this limp effort.
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Quest For Lost Love
Lechuguilla29 November 2009
Having ventured by accident into a cinema showing a puerile teen comedy, a stuffy and "slightly" behind-the-times London writer, Giles De'Ath (John Hurt), who is entering the latter part of his life, becomes infatuated with a youthful male film actor, a guy named Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley). Smitten, Giles discovers everything he can about the handsome young man, including the fact that he lives in the Hamptons, on Long Island. Giles then travels to Long Island, hoping to meet Ronnie.

This film is very much a character study of Giles, a man who lives a lonely, solitary life, cloistered in his London residence, with only a housekeeper. In Giles' own words: "For many years I had absolutely no public life". But he's articulate, knowledgeable, and old-world educated. He's also intellectually curious, and very resourceful.

The infatuation, which becomes an obsession, I can understand. That he embarks on such an improbable journey, and the outcome of that journey, seems a tad far-fetched. Still, it makes a reasonably interesting, though very slow-paced, story. The first half contains some humor, as Giles, wanting to see more films that Ronnie is in, learns the difference between a VCR and a microwave oven.

John Hurt's performance is adroit enough to keep the viewer's interest in Giles, assuming that one is predisposed to the attitudes of an unexcitable, older man. Jason Priestley plays himself, more or less. The film's tone is introspective and slightly melancholy. Background music is nondescript. Color cinematography is conventional, but competent.

Similar in theme to "Death In Venice", absent the magnificent visuals and music of the 1971 classic, "Love And Death On Long Island" will appeal to viewers to the extent that they find Giles and his quest for lost love engaging.
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9/10
totally satisfying original situation comedy
jvframe16 July 2003
John Hurt plays queer characters with such absolute dignity, that no actor should ever fear that such a role can harm their career.

As Quentin Crisp in "The Naked Civil Servant" he was allowed to age gracefully on screen. In "Love & Death On Long Island" John Hurt plays his age to advantage - as an older man coming to grips for the first time with the love-drug effects of limerance.

Any person can see that Jason Priestley's Ronnie Bostock is attractive - even Ronnie takes that as a given fact - so very few in the audience are going to question why an independently wealthy and completely available man would make every effort to win him.

I'm sure that any queer-friendly viewer will find this film to be entertaining, charming and totally satisfying as one of the most original situation comedies.
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10/10
Dead Funny
vplp10 February 1999
I watched it in the Hong Kong International Film Festival. The brief description on the brochure was very very vague, so I didn't know it's a comedy when I booked the ticket. But it's a nice surprise. It's both an effective comedy (The whole cinema burst into laughter throughout the film) and an interesting film (Well, it's got an interesting theme).

And, Hurt really deserves to win an Oscar.
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10/10
Among the Best
Signet24 October 1998
This is without question among the finest films of 1998. The acting alone would place it in the top rank, but the writing and direction are also amazing. John Hurt turns in the performance of his career and Jason Priestly demonstrates a depth of artistry in what is an astonishingly courageous characterization that heretofore has been indetectable in his work

This film is a winner, a laugh-out-loud comedy with a soul and a heart. I recommend it to anyone who believes that love can strike anywhere, and it is always a blessing, even in the most unlikely and unexpected venues.
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