The End of the Affair

on December 03, 1999 by Luisa F. Ribeiro
   For those who believe "they don't make 'em like they used to," Neil Jordan happily proves they can and do with his evocative tale of jealousy and obsession, "The End of the Affair." A sort of flip-side of the cherished romantic chestnut "Brief Encounter" (David Lean's 1945 directorial debut), "Affair," set in post-war London, follows Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes), a cynical young novelist who can't quite escape the drama of his own imagination even when confronted by a more fantastic reality.
   Haunted by a passionate war-time affair that ended mysteriously, Bendrix offers a strange service to old friend Henry Miles (Stephen Rea in an uncharacteristic stuffed-shirt role) who suspects his wife Sarah (Julianne Moore) of infidelity. Realizing Henry's gentleman ethics will never allow him to make inquiries, the less morally encumbered Bendrix hires a detective (Ian Hart in a deliciously earnest supporting role), who gradually turns up more than either man wants to know about the unexpectedly enigmatic Sarah.
   Adapted faithfully from the Graham Greene novel, Jordan expertly weaves suspicion and doubt through the gradual revelations that explain Bendrix's fixation on Sarah and Henry. A prisoner of his obsessions and fevered imagination, Bendrix can only gauge love by the jealousy it inspires and his own faithlessness destines him for the sort of peculiar twist of fate for which Greene's thought-provoking tales are noted.
   Stunning and meticulous set design by Anthony Pratt (responsible for the exquisite detail of Jordan's little-seen "Michael Collins") and impeccable costumes by Oscar winner Sandy Powell (who teasingly places Moore in only all red or all green) create a period atmosphere so rich, the film could have been made at the height of the studio era. Fiennes' Bendrix glowers and lusts with an attractive, tortured maliciousness reminiscent of his uber-romantic victim, Count Almasy of "The English Patient." The picture belongs to Moore, however, who goes British faultlessly, giving a stunning, low-key, textured performance as a woman torn, but capable of the great selflessness of real love. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore and Stephen Rea. Written and directed by Neil Jordan. Produced by Stephen Woolley. A Columbia release. Romantic Drama. Rated R for scenes of strong sexuality. Running time: 99 min
Tags: No Tags

read all Reviews »


No comments were posted.

What do you think?