Love And Death On Long Island

1998, Movie, R, 93 mins


Death in Venice on the North Shore. Reclusive English author Giles De'Ath (John Hurt) -- that's DAY-ath, thank you -- has spent his life immersed in the 19th century: To him, televisions, answering machines, microwave ovens and faxes are like science-fiction marvels of tomorrow. Caught one day in a sudden downpour, De'Ath ventures into the local cinema where a nice, arty E.M. Forster movie is playing. But fate directs him to the wrong theater, and he instead sees "Hotpants College II," whereupon the veil is lifted from his eyes. In the amiable person of American teen idol Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestly), De'Ath sees a contemporary embodiment of the Romantic ideals to which he's devoted his life of the mind. He examines Bostock's oeuvre as he would the poetry of Rimbaud or Baudelaire, then heads for Long Island in hopes of meeting the man himself. No question, the conceit is more than a little precious. And the true nature of De'Ath's interest in the virile Ronnie Bostock is obvious to viewers long before it's clear to either man, resulting in a very high squirm factor. But the interactions between the raspy-voiced Hurt and various shallowly cheerful Americans are genuinely charming and dynamic: The mailman, taxi drivers, the proprietor of local dive Chez D'Irv and motel owners all take him at face value, accepting his eccentricities as without malice, and indeed they are. Former Beverly Hills, 90210 heartthrob Jason Priestley acquits himself quite respectably, and not just because he's mostly called upon to play a callow actor of no conspicuous talent. He resists the impulse to overplay when he's meant to be acting badly, and in his key scene with Hurt he manages to evoke a series of genuinely complex emotions. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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Love And Death On Long Island
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