Surviving Desire is one of Hal Hartley’s earlier works with quick-witted dialogue and light-hearted humour, clocking in at a comfortable runtime of just under 60 minutes.
The story follows Jude an English college professor, madly in love with a soft-faced student of his named Sofie. While the rest of the class either tune out or become infuriated with Jude’s repetitive teachings on Dostoevsky, Sofie acutely listens and becomes enthused. Their relationship deepens through trades of unrealistic banter, philosophy and the uncovering of each other’s insecurities.
Surviving Desire is embedded with theatrical based humour where at one point Jude performs a seemingly choreographed silent dance with two passers-by’s after he kisses Sofie for the first time. Moreover, Katie, the homeless girl, asks strangers to marry her throughout the entirety of the film. Melodramatic lines such as “If you never see me again will you be sad? Will you be tortured by the memory of having been with me? Will you become obsessed? Will you be maudlin? And anti-social? Will you get into fights?” paint the film with an irreplaceable layer of comfort, lightening the mood of the film. However, complications start to arise when Sophie does not want to publicise the relationship as she does not want it to seem like an attempt to lift her grades
As the film finishes Sofie, who had so intently listened to Jude’s teachings, manages to teach him his own lessons. This is envisaged perfectly as the two are seen pondering side by side as classroom students, grounding the idea of constant existential confusion.
words RAYHAN RAFIQUE
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