Review: The End of the Affair


“What on Earth is a novelist?” asks Sarah.
“Research,” replies Maurice.  “On your husband.”

The End of the Affair

©1999 Global Entertainment Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Written, Directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, 1992, Oscar® Winner)
Based on the 1951 novel by Graham Greene
Produced by Neil Jordan and Stephen Woolley
Cinematography: Roger Pratt
Editor: Tony Lawson
Music: Michael Nyman
Running Time: 102 min.
Budget: $23 mn. (made back about half in U.S. domestic gross)
MPAA Rating: R (sexual content, nudity, some violence)
Reviewer Age Rating: 14+ (overall moderate/mild, no adult language)

Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Juilianne Moore; Stephen Rae; Ian Hart; James Bolam; Jason Isaacs

Stephen Rae made his acting debut in Neil Jordan’s directorial debut, Angel (1982)

Synopsis

“This is a diary of hate,” Maurice Bendrix (Fiennes) types on his typewriter as the story begins.  But we don’t know who he hates.  We suspect it is the husband he hates, as Bendrix weighs how much he loves Sarah Miles (Moore) based on his measure of jealousy.  Such jealousy to include her buttons, on all day; and her shoes, for walking away.

They’d fallen in lasting love.  There was a time he chased after her, made love to her, but the love affair lasted only as long as War World II remained active.

Henry (Rae), her husband, comes to suspect that his wife has a lover, but Bendrix and Miles never get caught, not even with the ‘bumbling but amiable’ Mr. Parkis (Hart).  As the war settles with a nearby bomb explosion and shattered glass, a promise is made.  The affair may end, but the love never does.  Reading Sarah’s diary, a result of the investigation he uses to his advantage, the mistaken Bendrix would chase her again after so much distance and time passed.

It is eventually disclosed whom he hates and blames in association as everyone loses a part of something.

The Hire

Bendrix does Henry’s bidding of hiring the investigator…reporting only to him.

“Are you intimate?” asks Mr. Savage (Bolam).

“No,” Bendrix lies.  “I’ve only seen her once since 1944,” he adds.

“I don’t understand.  You said this was a ‘watching’ case.”

“Can’t one…love or hate, long as that?”

“There’s nothing discreditable about jealously, Mr. Bendrix.  I always salute it as the mark of true love.”

“I’ve come on behalf of the husband.  He thinks she’s deceiving him.  ‘She has secrets.’”

“Ah, secrets.  Yes.”

“There may be nothing in it, of course.”

“In my experience, Mr. Bendrix…there almost invariably is.”

Take

The performances are good, with its Award winning/nominated cast.  There, I found no considerable flaws.  This is one of Fiennes’ better work that he appears more like a film character than as, well, a Fiennes character.  Moore is also fairly convincing.  The father-son relationship with the detective makes a nice, unexpected and growing touch rather than a distraction.

Jordan’s screenplay and direction, however, is a bit lacking in comparison to the novel.  While much of the film is solid with its dialogue and conveyed emotion, enough is missing that, in action, it comes off easy and simple, at least toward the end.  It charges with moments of passion, but it repeats a few sequences at length, filling time rather than detail.  In concept, it is a classic, with some strong and important points, but as far as watching it again I’m not sure what more I would get out of it.  Grade: B+.

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