1991   USA Surviving Desire
Surviving Desire Image Cover
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Director:Hal Hartley
Writer:Hal Hartley
IMDb Rating:7.5 (825 votes)
Awards:1 win
Duration:86 min
Hal Hartley  ...  (Director)
Hal Hartley  ...  (Writer)
Martin Donovan  ...  Jude
Matt Malloy  ...  Henry
Rebecca Nelson  ...  Katie
Julie Kessler  ...  Jill
Mary B. Ward  ...  Sofie
Thomas J. Edwards  ...  
George Feaster  ...  
Lisa Gorlitsky  ...  
Emily Kunstler  ...  
John MacKay  ...  
James McCauley  ...  
Vincent Rutherford  ...  
Gary Sauer  ...  
Steven Schub  ...  
Hannah Sullivan  ...  
The Great Outdoors  ...  Composer
Hal Hartley  ...  Composer
Michael Spiller  ...  Cinematographer
Summary: Surviving Desire is actually three short films, two of which--"Theory of Achievement" and "Ambition"--demonstrate writer-director Hal Hartley at his most quirky and abstract. They consist mostly of a series of dialogues, presented out of context, about things like Brooklyn real estate, nonlinear art, and contrasting male and female approaches to suicide. Fans of Hartley will enjoy them; newcomers will probably find them baffling. The third film, however--"Surviving Desire," from which the collection takes its title--is one of the most charming pieces Hartley has made. This hour-long story follows Jude (Martin Donovan), a college teacher obsessed with a single paragraph from The Brothers Karamazov, who's fallen in love with Sofie (Mary Ward), one of his students who's writing a short story about him. As the romance plays itself out, philosophical conversations turn into metaphysical Abbott and Costello routines, Jude breaks into spontaneous dance, a rock band in the street serenades a woman in her apartment window--and gradually a rueful and whimsical sense of life and love rises out of Hartley's erratic rhythms. Hartley is an idiosyncratic filmmaker who's not to everyone's taste; this short film is probably an ideal introduction to his work. Some of his movies seem to be working too hard for a sense of poetry and end up feeling stilted, but in "Surviving Desire" all of Hartley's devices take flight. --Bret Fetzer

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