March 12, 1999 -- "Love and Death on Long Island" is a one-of-a-kind little gem of a love story. It is funny, heartwarming and sad, a tale of the follies of youth and the follies of age.
John Hurt, the academy award winning actor of "The Elephant Man," does another superb job here as Giles De'Ath, a reclusive writer in London who, by chance, wanders into a movie theatre and sees an intriguing young man on the screen, Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley). In Bostock he sees an actor of effortless grace and ability.
De'Ath becomes obsessed. He buys a VCR, then a television when he discovers the VCR won't work without one. He rents every movie Bostock has ever appeared in and studies the tapes. In every gesture he discovers deep meaning. Bostock becomes the new center of his universe.
De'Ath eventually travels to Long Island, where Bostock lives with his girlfriend, Audrey (Fiona Loewi). De'Ath, who knows nothing of America, and is unused to navigating in the outside world (he can't drive a car), sets out to find Bostock. Some of the film's best scenes show De'Ath trying to cope with America and getting the aid of a fellow band of conspirators in a local diner.
De'Ath hikes for miles around Long Island looking for Bostock. His fellow conspirators have mapped out a likely area of expensive houses. He finally locates the house and, by ambushing Audrey in a supermarket, he manages to ingratiate his way into the Bostock household. His detailed knowledge of Bostock's movies and his unique literary interpretation of Bostock's acting style makes him a hit at the Bostock house.
Everything seems to be going quite well. De'Ath has plans to bend his writing talents to write screenplays tailor-made for Bostock's acting talents. He plans to devote his life to Bostock's career. He plans to make the rest of the world see Bostock as he does. Except for one little problem, the plan might have worked.
This is a wonderful little gem of a movie. Hurt's performance is wonderfully nuanced. His naiveté is perfectly matched by Bostock's. D'Arth's fish out of water act is hilarious. The way he copes with a completely foreign environment is ingenious and entertaining. Director Richard Kwietniowski does a nice job of balancing the comedy and pathos. He advances this fragile story carefully, but with a sure touch. This film rates an A.
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