Edinburgh Festival 97 / Film festival

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Love and Death on Long Island

Adapted from Gilbert Adair's novel, Richard Kwietniowski's impressive debut stars John Hurt as Giles De'Ath (geddit?), an emotionally desiccated widower who rediscovers life and love through popular culture.

Entombed in his rarefied studies, De'Ath knows little of the outside world until he stumbles into a multiplex and falls in love with the American teen idol Ronnie Bostock (played to vacuous perfection by Beverly Hills 90210 star Jason Priestley). Tracking the beautiful boy to his Long Island home, De'Ath dangerously encourages Ronnie's dreams of a "serious" career.

The dead European tradition versus the vitality of American populism and the older man besotted by idealised youth are themes played out many times before in literature and cinema (think Death in Venice). But Kwietniowski refreshes these themes with wit and visual dexterity, capturing Adair's post-modern romance with a deceptive ease.

If the movie falls down anywhere, it is in the chill of De'Ath's passion, for while Kwietniowski and Hurt gloriously realise the incongruous humour of De'Ath's amour fou, they never quite seem to reach its heart.

Screens Sat 23, FH1 (0131-467 8855)

Liese Spencer

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