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Love And Death On Long Island Review

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A best-selling high brow author becomes obsessed by a teen movie star.

★★★★

After a sequence of much admired shorts, Kwietniowski makes his feature film debut with this bittersweet blend of Death In Venice and Porky's. Adapted from film critic Gilbert Adair's knowing novel, it takes a well-aimed swipe at the highbrows who all too readily dismiss popcorn pictures and the audiences for whom they're made.

Recently widowed Giles De'Ath (Hurt) is a best-selling author with little time for the modern world. But when a rain shower drives him to seek cinematic shelter, he wanders into a bawdy teenpic called Hot Pants College II and immediately becomes enamoured of its rising star, Ronnie Bostock (Priestley).

Eventually, daydreams are not enough and De'Ath sets off for Long Island determined to declare his devotion to Bostock. Having gained the confidence of the actor's girlfriend Audrey (the impressive Loewi), he persuades the actor that there is a Shakespearean quality to his work and suggests he is perfect for his own screenplay about a deaf-mute's search for love. Bostock is swept away by such intellectual overtures, but Audrey suspects ulterior motives.

Priestley sportingly parodies his pin-up image, as Bostock discovers the hidden depth of his thesping in such gleefully parodic pics as Tex-Mex and Skid Marks. But the film belongs to Hurt. Everything about his love-crushed fogey is authentic; the way he transforms his pristine study into a secret shrine to his idol; the slavish compilation of a scrapbook of teen mag clippings; the satisfaction of winning Mastermind with Ronnie as his specialist subject. It's a character to rank alongside his Quentin Crisp and John Merrick.

If Kwietnioswki somewhat misjudges the ending, this is still a charmingly unassuming film.

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