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Laramie Movie Scope:
Love and Death on Long Island

A clash of sensibilities that teeters between pathos and bathos

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(1996) A clash of sensibilities between two men - one young, the other elderly; a teen-idol actor and a serious writer; an American and an Englishman - leaves this film, written and directed by Richard Kwietniowski, teetering between pathos and bathos.

"This story began with the end of another," narrates Giles De'Arth (John Hurt), a childless widower, "erstwhile fogy, now cult" author, who in London accepts an offer of being interviewed on the wireless as an invitation to enter the late 20th century, then goes to see a cinematic adaptation of E.M. Forster's story, Eternal Moment, at a multiplex only to discover he's inside the wrong theatre watching Hotpants College 2.

Just as he's about to exit, he sees on the screen a winsome young actor, Ron Bostock (Jason Priestley), as Mikey. Suddenly infatuated, he becomes obsessed with knowing everything he can find out about Ronnie, creating a scrapbook from fan magazines. In the Täte Gallery the Pre-Raphaelite painting, The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallace, strikes Giles as representative of his young man: "The discovery of beauty where no one thought of looking for it."

In order to watch videos of Ronnie's oeuvre, including Tex Mex, he purchases a VCR and a telly (neither of which he'd previously possessed); he orders pizza by delivery while repeatedly viewing the tapes, making "contact with everything I've never been."

Soon after the outset of a lecture series, "The Death of the Future," in which Giles speaks of the permanence of performance by actors on videotape, his agent Henry recommends he take a trip to get away for awhile. Changing his brand of cigarettes to Chestertons, Giles flies to Chesterton, Long Island, New York, in search of his American cinema celebrity.

Staying at a cheap motel and getting his meals at the Chez d'Irv diner, he's amused by Americanisms - Yanks ask for a check and pay with a bill while Brits ask for a bill and pay with a cheque - and amazed by mobile phones and fax machines; it's as if he'd started with Forster's Howards End only to discover he was reading a catalogue from Lands End.

Eventually he discovers Ronnie's residence; in a supermarket accidentally on purpose he rams his shopping cart into that of Ronnie's fiancé Audrey (Fiona Loewi) in order to get acquainted. Impressed that a real writer from the UK has taken his film work seriously, Ronnie, who has ambitions of becoming more than a heart-throb for female adolescent fantasies, listens to Giles describe a screenplay of a deaf-mute character brought up on TV who begins his quest to experience reality through falling in love, which, of course, as happens in all of Gile's work, must end in sacrifice.

Just before Ronnie and Audrey are to depart for LA to see her parents, at Chez d'Irv Giles makes his offer of elder mentorship - similar to the relationship between French poet Arthur Rimbaud (whom Ronnie misinterprets as Sylverster Stallone's Rambo) with Paul Verlaine - if he will come to Europe: "I am prepared to devote myself to your career." Is this not guile's death?

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2008 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

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