Fans of the book will be dying to know how Roger Michell handles the shock opening, and he sends this balloon up and away with tension, flair, colour and a sense of awe. Thereafter, a claustrophobic, twitchy domestic drama sets in, till the climax implodes with silly mad-stalker histrionics. A shame: for an hour the intricate (very French) direction and acting of Daniel Craig and Samantha Morton are totally absorbing. But the atmosphere’s derailed by the miscasting of Rhys lfans as a pitiful psychotic. You keep expecting him to bare his bum: scary, but not that scary.
Intellectuals Joe (Craig) and Claire (Morton) find faultlines in their relationship when Joe fails to save a man pulled to his death by a hot air balloon. Another witness, Jed (Ifans), begins to harangue Joe with visits and calls, until it’s clear he’s a dangerous obsessive. Surely contrary to McEwan’s intentions, it turns into Fatal Attraction without the laughs. Much analysis of What Love Means honours the novel, but the bubble pops.