Love and Death on Long Island/B,B

Universal/1998/94m/ANA 1.85

       What's going on with Giles De' Ath? The fussy British writer has recently lost his wife and continues in a sheltered scholarly life,  oblivious to the world around him. Giles prides himself on his obliviousness to the modern world. In a rare radio interview, Giles responds to a question about his chosen writing tool with a self-assured "I'm a writer. I write. I don't process words."  But Giles De'Ath is about to break out in the most unexpected way. It all has something to do with E. M. Forster and teen movies. Are you ready to join Giles on a journey from domestic bliss to incomprehensible longing?

Script pitch? ŠUniversal

      De'Ath begins his journey in London, detouring from the clubby surroundings of his everyday life into local movie, and with eyes wide chagrin watches the wrong film in a small two screen house. Before long, Giles pursues his new found obsession to the shores of backwater Long Island, on the fringes of the Hamptons, where the best accommodations he can find is a quickie motel. But this is one determined writer, and he charms his way through every situation.
     Director Richard Kwietnieowski does an excellent job of moving the film along at a crisp pace from his own screenplay. The photography is relaxed, clean and unobtrusive. Don't expect laughing out loud humor here, but a good smile is likely to remain on your face for much of the film. 
     John Hurt does wonders with the role of Giles De'Ath. Hurt's line readings have marvelously droll inflections. Even the way he stands or tilts his head quizzically works wonders with his character. Hurt is charming without being smarmy and his way. He's a traveler riding on his use of language.  Jason Priestly, playing actor Ronnie Bostock,  makes a good foil for the wit of John Hurt. Fiona Loewi is very charming as Ronnie's girl Audrey, but perhaps a bit more subtlety of expression would have extracted that last ounce of humor from her role. 
     Love and Death on Long Island is a reasonably sharp DVD. Some scenes have a slight softness in finer detail, otherwise everything is consistently resolved. The color tracks well, with a brightly saturated range. The only bloom I noticed was on the red light of a traffic signal. There is a slight persistent noise in the picture, possibly related to film grain, but it does not come off that way. It is not very intrusive, but it keeps this disc from getting a higher rating. The Dolby Digital 2-channel sound in nicely matrixed and well balanced. Surround information brings a nice ambiance tot he outdoor scenes.

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