Surviving Desire (1991)

Original Title : Surviving Desire
Director : Hal Hartley
Writer : Hal Hartley
Genre : Comedy
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Jerome Brownstein , Ted Hope
Music : The Great Outdoors
Hal Hartley
Photography : Michael Spiller (I)
IMDB ID : 0103010
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poster for "Surviving Desire" by Hal Hartley (1991)
Surviving Desire (1991) - Hal Hartley


Martin Donovan II
Matt Malloy I
Merritt Nelson Katie
Julie Sukman Jill
Mary B. Ward I
Thomas J. Edwards producer


Jude, a college literature professor, falls for one of his students. She is more interested in the empirical experience of a relationship with a man whose life is ruled by the themes of the Russian Lit. he extolls in class. Jude shows an interesting side of the stigmas associated with transgenerational relationships and how to deal with the inevitable pain of a love doomed to failure.


A small piece of perfection. Surviving desire was made for American Television and is only about an hour long. Despite the limited running time, Hal Hartley has produced in this film his best work. Using his trademark non-naturalistic dialogue and intellectualism, Hartley builds odd, but very believable characters. This is a touching film, expertly made and contains Martin Donovan's finest performance as the frustrated Jude. Matt Malloy is also fantastic as Henry. The mixture of high art, the emotional, the bizarre and the mundane make this often ignored opus a must see for anyone interested in cinema. An understated and ever-fresh film full of brilliance. Not the best film ever made, but absolutely one of my favourites.