The End of the Affair Movie Review

I was dragged to see The End of the Affair expecting another lavishly costumed, pointless period romance of the Merchant-Ivory type ... only based on Graham Greene instead of Jane Austen or E. M. Forster. The kind of movie that our wives drag us to. Instead, I was converted.

The End of the Affair makes a lot of serious points, and offers a very modern, psychological drama in spite of the period setting (London during World War II). Instead of being another revisionist Hollywood remake, The End of the Affair is the best kind of historical drama: one that reminds you that history was made of real people and their emotions --- love, pain, jealousy, and emptiness.

The film revolves around a wartime affair between Sarah Miles (Julianne Moore), the wife of a civil servant, and a writer, Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes), who becomes her jealous lover. Bendrix hires an investigator (drolly played by Ian Hart) to follow Sarah, convinced that she can't love him as purely as she does. Ultimately, he finds that the rival for her affections is not another lover, but something more unexpected.

Graham Greene, who converted to Catholicism before writing The End of the Affair, was one of the last generation of writers (along with contemporaries like Evelyn Waugh, C.S. Lewis, and William Faulkner) to seriously consider the implications of religious belief. Greene's refusal to resolve his ambivalent faith is transcribed in the movie, which goes deeper than the fashionable nihilism of most movies these days.

Director Neil Jordan returns to form with this work. Jordan has brought Greene's novel alive, revealing the conflicted, turbulent emotions of the survivors of the Blitz. The cast is excellent, including Fiennes as the lout and Stephen Rea as the cuckold; but Moore's sensual portrayal of Sarah, an ordinary individual forced to struggle with belief, is the most haunting, and worth an Oscar nod.

The End of the Affair offers a much more balanced view of faith than many supposedly religious movies --- unlike, say, The Green Mile, with its unbelievable Christ-figure and obvious social-gospel message, or the whiny, cliched despair of Angela's Ashes. By holding God accountable for pain and suffering as well as miracles, the makers of The End of the Affair capture the uncertainty and passion of people struggling with real faith.

We wished it didn't End.

Cast & Crew

Director :


The End of the Affair Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: R, 1999


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