“Love and Death on Long Island”
Slow but Witty
In “Love and Death on Long Island”, consummate English actor, John Hurt, plays Giles, a lonely and tired writer who is out of touch with the modern world. Jason Priestly plays the object of his desire. When Giles first meets Ronnie Bostock (Priestly), he finds a new reason for living as he pursues the young man. Seeing shades of “Death in Venice” and “Lolita” is this film is not surprising as the younger man is actively pursued by someone much older.
Giles is a stuffy English writer obsessed by an American teenager and grade B movie star. He goes to Long Island to find the guy and actually does so. Giles is an intellectual, crusty and 60ish and Giles manages to woo Ronnie. Hurt is perfect in the part and he gives us some wonderful acting. As he starts his new life while going after Ronnie we see him with warmth that the character has probably never felt before. When he offers to Help Ronnie in his career, it s clear to us that he does so in order to keep the young man close t him.
Giles has been in a state of self-exile from the modern world. He lives in a stuffy flat in London which is dominated by a picture of his recently deceased wife and all of his emotions are totally repressed. When fate aids him and exposes him to Ronnie, he finally begins to understand his true sexuality and he finds a semblance of happiness. His obsession for Ronnie is thoroughly satisfying for him.
The confession scene at the end of the movie is touching and filled with raw emotion. It is exactly the moment when Giles realizes that he is in love with Ronnie and lusts for him sexually. He does not merely admire him. Faced with the risk of losing the young man, he is ready to go actively after him and as Ronnie becomes more reluctant, Giles becomes more desperate.
One of the most surprising things about the film is the ability of Jason Priestly to carry his role nobly. He holds his own against Hurt who is pure magnificence.
The artistic convention of the older mentor and the younger muse is not new but it is handled beautifully. Other interesting ideas are raised as well—the nature of love and how those who are set in their ways can find a new reason for life.