Daniel Craig, Samantha Morton, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy
Joe: You’re mad.
Jed: That’s what they said about Jesus once.
Joe: They also said it about a lot of mad people!
While having a pleasant day in the countryside, Joe (Craig) and Claire (Morton) witness a hot air balloon accident that costs a man his life. Joe feels like he could have done more to prevent the man’s death, and his guilt starts to eat away at him. Meanwhile, another man who was there that day has taken a bizarre interest in Joe and follows him everywhere.
Is love real? Is it an unexplainable feeling, or is it just a chemical reaction the body uses to fool us into procreating? This is the subject that Joe, a college professor and writer, seems to spend all his time discussing with his students. What course he’s teaching exactly, I’m not sure, but his students never seem too thrilled about it. Neither does Joe’s girlfriend, Claire. She’s an artist who seems to lean more towards a less concrete idea of what love is.
Something about that balloon accident has pushed Joe far to the end of the spectrum where love is just a biological process and nothing in the world happens for a reason. Just as his psyche is starting to unravel over the seeming randomness of life, in walks Jed (Ifans)…and gets it unraveling even faster.
Jed was there at the field when the accident occurred. He tried to help too. He and Joe found the dead man’s body together which, to Jed, created some sort of bond between them. And he’s not letting it go.
There’s a bit of a Hitchcockian feel to this movie, which I’m always a fan of, with an average guy getting thrown into a confusing, life-changing situation out of the blue. As Joe gets more and more confused by his situation, the people around him get more and more confused and frustrated with Joe. The tension builds to an intentionally frustrating level until it reaches the point that you’re totally sympathetic with Joe when he wants to just start smashing things with a baseball bat.
This movie has its flaws, and I imagine it could be a challenge to get through for some, but I like what director Roger Michell was trying to do with it. He ramped up frustration levels in a previous film, Changing Lanes, but I think this movie might do that movie one better in that arena. There’s some interesting, inventive camera angles, good performances, and a nice creepy mood throughout. It probably holds the tension a little too long, and then wraps things up with too nice a bow on top in the end, but I was still along for the ride.
I wouldn’t be surprised if people let go and drop off early though…just like Joe did.
Be careful opening and closing your curtains. You might be inadvertently sending signals to stalkers.
10 – 1.5 for being a little TOO aggravating at times – .5 for some odd musical choices – 1 for too neat of an ending = 7.0