Movie Review by Almiro Jorge
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton, Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln
Director: Roger Michell
Opening a bottle of champagne as he prepares to propose, Joe (Daniel Craig), a university lecturer, and Claire (Samantha Morton), a sculptor, are sitting on a lush green field outside London. A red hot air balloon suddenly appears out of nowhere and lands on the open field. Just then, a man jumps out of the balloon, leaving a child inside. Joe and three other men grab onto the ropes and keep the balloon down.
Almost supernaturally, a gust of wind catches the balloon and drags it away with the men holding onto the rope. One by one the men let go as the hot air balloon rises. Way up into the heavens it floats as the men look on in disbelief as the last one is still holding onto the mooring rope. The man clutches onto rope for as long as he can and then falls to the ground.
Joe tries to take control of the situation as he runs through the fields to reach the body of the dead man. Jed, one of the men that let go, wants to pray at the sight of the corpse but asks Joe to join him in prayer. Joe is not religious and is reluctant to pray but after much imploring from Jed, they get down on their knees to “share” this moment.
Being haunted by what happened, Joe becomes obsessed with hot air balloons and the red colour. In contradiction, Jed, beautifully characterised by Rhys Ifans, becomes obsessed with Joe and devises opportunities to see him. Jed is the type of person that you don’t really want to be friends with but you act politely with and after a while end up telling him to leave you alone. The film then plays out the relationship between Joe, his work, his girlfriend and Jed.
From the beautiful photography at the outset, director, Roger Michell, continues to use great camera strategies, from stedicam to fish-eye shots in order to create thrilling tension in the unfolding plot. The film seems to begin as an action film, then takes a turn into a complex tale of moralistic views, before it ends as a thriller.
Samantha Morton’s portrayal of Claire seems to be her usual, spot-on performance. Craig masterfully shows us the great transformation from a conceited intellectual into a submissive geek. The ever-terrific Bill Nighy rounds off the cast adeptly as Joe and Claire´s happily married family friends.
The film seems to culminate into one unexpected moment at the finale. Michell catches the audience off guard in that superlative and sudden breath.
This film is definitely worth the trip to the big screen.