Casino Royale

Casino Royale ★★★★

"Bond and Vesper’s love is frustrated, denied its proper end; they are physically united, but cannot overcome their spiritual separateness. What makes Casino Royale erotic art, rather than pornography, is its attention to Bond’s emotional interiority; what makes it great erotic art is Bond’s preoccupation with (and anguished inability to grasp) Vesper’s emotional interiority. It is a real love story, and a tragic one – nearly a Hitchcock-level treatise on the sad fate of eros in the modern world, where all relationships are haunted by the absence of a stable framework in which trust might flourish. To refer again to Scruton’s distinction, Casino Royale is by no means concerned with evoking a fantastic gratification; instead, it is a persuasive depiction of a genuine erotic dilemma."

Full essay at FilmFisher.

P.S. Craig's Bond films, ranked:
Casino Royale > Quantum of Solace > Skyfall > Spectre
So in the end, it's just one more franchise that was better in the 2000s than the 2010s.

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