Projections - Movie Reviews

The End of the Affair

Initially confusing, dark and dreary in the cold London rain, The End of the Affair slowly gives up its secrets through alternative views of events.

It makes no sense for Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) to fall in love with a married woman.  The object of his passionate love is Sarah Miles (Julianne Moore); her husband Henry (Stephen Rea) is a dedicated civil servant who loves her but is not in love with her.  Maurice and Sarah enter into a erotic love affair while German bombs fall on London.

The powerful story from the novel by Graham Greene, deals with love, betrayal and sexual jealousy.  With his hope of a permanent relationship with Sarah gone, Maurice hires a private detective (Ian Hart) who uses his young son (Sam Bould) to collect information about Sarah.  The young detective has a significant birth mark on the left side of his face and Sarah shows him sympathy when she observes him sitting on a step.  Rather than the husband researching his wife's unfaithful activities, Maurice's twisted anger forces him to build a dossier of information on the women he passionately loves and hates.

The moral dilemmas faced by each of the three main characters twist and turn as the plot slowly uncovers itself, reveling the opposite of what has been perceived.  Rejection becomes an act of love and non belief in God becomes a Catholic commitment.  Pledges which are based in moral conviction fail to bring peace and in the darkest hour for Maurice he finds the tools of redemption.

These three flawed characters are bound together by the act of severing the illicit affair.  They eventually expose their hate and love to each other.  What is obvious is not and all the built up hate stands without foundation.

As Maurice rips into the local Catholic priest for God's perceived failings he only knows one secret, the other he will learn through a quiet miracle and it will force him to comprehend Sarah and God differently and to accept the complexities of the three lives which have become so entwined.

This is a classic love story reminiscent of the time it takes place, a time when, as in Casablanca, other events and commitments were more important that the individuals.

The End of the Affair
A Top Ten pick for 1999

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