Respected British actor John Hurt and aging teen idol Jason Priestley may seem like unlikely co-stars, but their pairing is successful in Love And Death On Long Island, an unusual end-of-the-century drama from first-time director Richard Kwietniowski. Hurt plays an eccentric, ossified novelist at odds with the lifestyles of the late 20th century. After embarrassing himself by doing a rare radio interview, Hurt finds himself unexpectedly fixated upon a young movie star (Priestley) when he accidentally buys a ticket to the teensploitation comedy Hotpants College 2 rather than the latest E.M. Forster adaptation. Hurt's obsession leads him to perform uncharacteristic acts, such as buying a television, reading magazines aimed at teenage girls, and, finally, hopping on a plane to seek out Priestley at his Long Island home. An unpredictable, often funny, always winning film, Love And Death On Long Island is filled with low-key humor and sharp observations about the state of art at the close of the millennium. Hurt's performance—and it's always a pleasure when the oft-misused actor gets a role like this one—and Kwietniowski's direction invest the proceedings with a gravity that complements the fish-out-of-water jokes. What could have been either condescending or sort of creepy given the subject matter is instead charming, thought-provoking, and very much worth seeking out.
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