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"Love and Death on Long Island."

By Ray Pride

MARCH 16, 1998:  Giddy, supple, laugh-out-loud and delicately detailed, Richard Kwietniowski's first feature is a fresh culture-clash comedy with a stellar performance by John Hurt, brilliant as a clique novelist obsessing over unlikely beauty. A witty take on "Death in Venice," "Love and Death on Long Island," based on a novel by film critic Gilbert Adair, puts Hurt's widowered intellectual recluse-Giles De'Ath by name-into the clutches of an obsession with a young American movie star, Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley), lead performer in such lasting epics as "Tex Mex," "Skid Marks" and "Hotpants College II." Kwietniowski is attentive to Giles' life of the mind, but also to the guilty pleasure of buying bubblegum magazines with names like "Sugar" to assemble his cache of Bostockiana. Better yet, Kwietniowski gives us extracts from the Bostock oeuvre, which mimic the low-down rottenness, both literary and visual, of teen movies in the lineage of "Porky's." By the time the oh-so-English Giles flies to Long Island to be closer to his newfound object of affection, Kwietniowski has established himself as a terrific new comic talent. "Love and Death" is always surprising, never settling into the predictable or banal-Giles' obsession is never truly explained away as merely homoerotic and his willingness to withstand all manner of humiliation is both charming and more than a little scary.

(Ray Pride)

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