HPPUB MOVIE REVIEW of Love and Death on Long Island


Title:  Love and Death on Long Island

Release Date:  1997

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: 95 min

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor and Production Company:   Lions Gate

Director; Writer: Richard Kwietniowski


Cast:   John Hurt,  Jason Priestly


Relevance to DOASKDOTELL site:  “Oscar Wilde” syndrome, writing



Movie Review: Love and Death on Long Island: Lions Gate, 1997, 95 Minutes; Rated "R"

So here is it, the classic fable: a closeted, aging gay man develops a mad crush on a young, virile straight man, even to the point of having to compete with legitimate girl friends.

The gay man is a genre novelist and "professional" British author (played by John Hurt), past his prime, and very clumsy in taking care of things. His incompetence with modern gadgets or technology suggests an almost contemptible (and not just laughable) lack of common sense. And he likes to quibble. "I don't process words, I write." "You said, thank you for not smoking. Well, I'll smoke and you don’t need to thank me."

One day, desperately needing to amuse himself, he goes to a porno movie, and just falls in love with the star (Jason Priestly) of "Hot Pants 2." He decides to go to America, Long Island, New York, to be specific, to hunt him down. Indeed, he finds his boy and they become platonic friends. But soon our anti-hero is faced with the problem of making it stick.

The final scene in the diner (reminiscent of a movie by that name) is either heart-rending or pathetic, from one's point of view. He "offers" the porn star a career in Britain, and it is clear he is in no position to offer anything. He seems miffed by Priestly's desire to get married and confirm his taming by a woman, even though he was married once himself. But Priestly, not given to homophobic panic when he "finds out" genly pats the old man and walks away.

There is nothing left for the old writer to do but to die.

Recently, an acquaintance gave me another interpretation of this film. The protagonist is not really "gay," just fascinated with youthful virility the way straight men are. Indeed, the protagonist, in the mind of this commentator, hadn't really "lived" any kind of earthy life. I disagree. Older straight men, once married, usually lose their fascination with the male qualities of other men.

There have been other films about authorship as a profession. In 2003, Francois Ozon’s Swimming Pool (Focus/Seville Pictures) featured Charlotte Rampling as a British mystery novelist who lives in a house in France provided by her boss for inspiration, and her own family, or is it delusions, provide the material. An older film from Touchstone, D.O.A. (1988, with Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan) presents an English professor in a deadly love triangle, a complicated murder plot, very deadly radioactive poison as a weapon, and a student who wants the money and official recognition from authorship without doing the work. Authors have careers, too, and dread that “midlist” reputation in the trade. This film is sandwiched with a prologue and epilogue in effective black-and-white.





Related reviews:  Latter Days, etc.     Mysterious Skin, etc.  


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