Surviving Desire

Ahhh, if only people really spoke this way, casually weaving philosophy and unmasked declarations of intent with poetic asides about laundry detergent. If you’ve ever wished more movies were built around passages from Dostoyevsky, this one’s your jam. Clocking in at a cool 53 minutes, Hal Hartley’s absurdist graph of dysfunctional love circa 1993 maps a tryst, from the classroom to the bookstore, to the bedroom and then back to the classroom, and finally down into the gutter, between a burnt-out college English professor (Hartley’s longtime male muse Martin Donovan) and his favorite student (Mary B. Ward). She writes her fantasies and accusations into a short story about her self-hating egotist lover, but is she really just writing about herself? Is ignorance the necessary condition of human happiness? Is it wrong to physically harm students because they don’t like the Classics? In this dryly funny, willfully surreal ode to heartbreak, the answers — if there are any — lie in the questions themselves.
The afternoon’s program also includes the 1991 Hal Hartley shorts Ambition and Theory of Achievement!
Dir. Hal Hartley, 1992, digital presentation, 53 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Surviving Desire”!
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