starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver, Maury Chaykin, John Hurt
screenplay by Maurice Chauvet, based on the Gary Stephen Ross book Stung: The Incredible Obsession of Brian Molony
directed by Richard Kwietniowski
by Walter Chaw Richard Kwietniowski's Owning Mahowny charts the mendacity of addiction with something like a poet's lyrical melancholy. The director's follow-up to his surprisingly gentle take on Thomas Mann, Love and Death on Long Island, finds another story of obsessive love that is itself obsessed with the importance of place in defining the accumulated essence of identity and desire. Kwietniowski's films seem to be about secret outsiders finding themselves at some point swept out to proverbial sea, the land fading fast. While in Love and Death on Long Island that divorce illustrates the reach traversed by reclusive novelist Giles De'Ath (John Hurt) to claim his inamorata, in Owning Mahowny, the widening gyre is considerably (and deliciously) more complicated; the film marks Kwietniowski's emergence as the most promising cartographer of self-confessional mortification since countryman Terence Davies. And Kwietniowski does it all with gentle, uncompromising humour.