Volume 93, Issue 64
Tuesday, January 25, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Affair a savoury dish for film connoisseurs
Photo by David Appleby
MAURICE, IS THAT A NOVEL IN YOUR POCKET, OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE ME? Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes get a little closer and aren't shy in the poignant but highbrow End of the Affair
By Stephanie Truscott
If films were food, The End of the Affair would be a gourmet meal amidst a table full of junk food. The film is meant for audiences with a sophisticated palate, not for those who prefer eating popcorn with the Hollywood blockbuster. It is truly a movie intended for a serious audience, as its adult characters deal with adult subjects such as jealousy, infidelity and religious faith in a very mature manner.
Based on the 1955 Graham Greene novel of the same name, the story begins on a rainy night in 1946. Novelist Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) has a chance meeting with Henry Miles (Stephen Rea) the husband of his ex-mistress Sarah (Julianne Moore), who abruptly ended their affair two years earlier.
Henry confides to Maurice that he believes Sarah is cheating on him. Upon hearing this news, Maurice's obsession with Sarah is rekindled and his jealousy ignited. He hires a private investigator, played by Ian Hart (Backbeat), to spy on Sarah and the unknown lover, but in the course of this action, feels the heated passion of their relationship once more.
In the familiar role as home wrecker, Fiennes does a marvelous job of playing the tragic lover. As Maurice says, "In fiction, husbands are always ridiculous and lovers always tragic." No one knows this better than Fiennes, whose roles in films such as the Oscar-winning The English Patient have resulted in a career of playing such characters. The only difference is that, instead of the hot and exotic deserts of Patient's Africa, Fiennes finds himself in the rainy and dreary city of London.
Despite the romantic storyline, Fiennes and Moore lack chemistry. Although their sex scenes are numerous, they lack passion, which is the crucial problem with this film. Even though both actors are extremely talented, with Moore garnering a Golden Globe for her performance, neither makes their attraction for the other believable. Both characters are detached, reserved and unemotional, but then again, so are all the characters in this film.
Director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) removes a lot of extraneous material from the original book, which helps to tie the cinematic story tightly together. He pays a lot of attention to fine detail, perfectly replicating certain scenes through elaborate set design and gorgeous costuming, making this film one of the better novel adaptations in recent years.
It is clear that The End of the Affair contains all the ingredients to satisfy a gourmet lover's appetite, with its intelligent dialogue, talented performances, beautiful sets and costumes. But be warned the romantic elements of this film serve only as a backdrop in which the important themes, such as jealousy and faith, are explored. This doesn't exactly make it your typical date film.
For those of you expecting a mushy romance, you're better off waiting for the next Hollywood blockbuster to sate your junk food craving.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000