The End of the Affair (1999)

I’ve only made two promises in my life. One was to marry Henry, the other is to stop seeing you. And I’m too weak to keep either.

— Sarah

The next movie that Julianne Moore was nominated for an Oscar, this time for Best Actress for Neil Jordan’s take on the Graham Greene novel, The End of the Affair. Researching this movie, I didn’t know that this was a remake of a 1955 Edward Dmytryk film that I have never seen. I have heard of the movie. It was in the back of mind to see it, because I never had the chance to do it until now. Having watched the movie, I wished that more of the movie then the longing and unrequited love.

As the title suggests there is an affair that ends. Pretty self-explanatory. Who are the two people that are having the affair? A mild-mannered husband, Henry Miles (Stephen Rea) seeks out the advice of his friend and neighbor, Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) that his wife, Sarah (Moore) might be having an extramarital; affair. Henry holds a card for a private investigator to track his wife’s nightly activities, but he doesn’t want to know the answer. Maurice offers his services to see who Sarah is seeing.

What Henry doesn’t know is that Maurice and Sarah had a torrid affair during the height of the fighting in WWII. They first met in 1939 during a cocktail party in the Miles’ house. They are equally taken with each other. Maurice takes Sarah to the movie-house to see a movie that was based on one of his novellas. During dinner, Sarah confesses that she is unhappy with her decade long marriage to Henry that equates to a platonic relationship than a passionate one. They begin their affair.

Sarah begins to fall in love with Maurice for being boring like Henry. Maurice is a jealous man who is envious that Henry is married to Sarah that he is not. It’s tears himself up inside. He begins to questions her intentions until she cannot take it anymore.

Years later, the old wounds come back when Maurice visits with the private investigator, Parkis (Ian Hart) to see who has Sarah’s affections like he did when they had their rendezvous. Maurice becomes consumed in a way about the way that Sarah is deceiving everyone in her life. Things are not what they seem when Parkis gathers up his evidence about Sarah’s whereabouts.

The movie on the surface is relatively simple. A love story that could never be because of the circumstances of being in a loveless marriage, being in love with a struggling novelist. She would not have the stability and security that she needed. The movie is not a straight up linear narrative. There is a lot of recollections and revelations that breaks up the narrative, which I quite liked.

The strongest part of the movie was the middle, which I can’t say why because it was spoil it. The middle of the movie was fantastic, especially for Sarah’s character. The beginning of the movie felt disjointed with the affair happening right away. There were no wooing or a build up to the affair. Maurice’s character felt so bland and uninteresting. By the end, I didn’t care for him. Speaking of the end, it was the biggest letdown, because I knew what was coming and if Julianne Moore was nominated for Oscar for this then I would know what it was.

Judgment: If the movie focused more on the love between Maurice and Sarah, I would have liked it better.

Rating: ***

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on July 27, 2010, in 1999, Academy Award Nominee, Drama, LAMB Acting School 101, Meme, Romantic and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I like Julianne here, she seems to be underrated for this performance in particular but her and Fiennes do well together.

    • In most of her roles, she is very understated. Very natural. I wish the playfulness went throughout the movie.

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