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END OF THE AFFAIR

SYNOPSIS:
While the war rages around them, novelist Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) and Mrs Sarah Miles (Julianne Moore) fall in love after a chance encounter at a party given by the decent but dull civil servant Mr Henry Miles (Stephen Rea). Their illicit, sexually liberating affair is brutally interrupted by a nearby bomb, which send Maurice flying down the shattered stairwell. He survives - only just, but Sarah suddenly breaks off the relationship immediately afterwards, sending Maurice into a painful and jealous hurt. Two years later, Maurice runs into Henry and his jealousy is re-ignited; he has Sarah followed and jumps to all sorts of conclusions. When he learns her true reasons for leaving him, he wants her back - but for Sarah, the price of her true, illicit love has to be paid.

"The End of the Affair is an esoteric romance: an intimate film based on obsession, jealousy and melancholy. Neil Jordan has crafted a love story of understated and stifled passions, accentuated by the muted production design and Michael Nyman's intense, moody music. Nyman repeats the furious persistence of his score in The Piano, again canvassing themes of entrapment, emotional isolation by the claustrophobic intensity of its passion. Dark passions, obsessive passions, tormented passions, illicit and stolen passions. Passions that are alluded to, and those we see more than we actually feel. 'Pain is easy to write about' we are told, but 'what can one write about happiness?' Interesting thought and a telling point of view. These words come from the mouth of a man who luxuriates in unhappiness, a bitter writer who believes lovers are jealous and husbands are ridiculous. Torrents of endless rain throughout the film accentuate the pain and anguish of the characters. The allure of the top of a stocking, a shapely leg on the stairs and stolen moments of forbidden love in wartime England are the only hints of sunshine. Yet this beautifully crafted film feels as though its emotional structure was completed with a pen, not the heart. The heart evokes tears and moments of unbearable poignancy; the pen creates haunting illusions. I was especially moved by Stephen Rea as the tortured husband, a pathetic character totally lost in the abyss of emotional hell. Understatement is the key; passion stimulated within our imagination. Ralph Fiennes is well suited to this kind of understatement, but the film lacks on-screen sizzle, despite alluring love scenes: the depth of the emotions is intellectual. The End of the Affair is a ripe adult romance that embraces the ironies and dour, wry complexities of life. Chance encounters, religious convictions and the inevitability of fate's hand are set side by side, the result being a stirring and haunting experience."
Louise Keller

"Haunted by broken love, chased by jealousy and tortured by circumstance, the two central characters have all the ammunition for amorous cinematic pyrotechnics. But a few directorial decisions that might have turned up the heat - such as the way Sarah's vitally important and revealing diary entries are read - are perhaps the cause for a lack of deeply felt emotional connection to what is a complex and fascinating love story. That it walks a fine line between spiritual mysticism makes it all the more challenging; perhaps Neil Jordan wanted to steer well clear of what may have seemed excessive emotion in an already tense emotional environment. And Stephen Rea's wonderful realisation of a typically emotion-challenged Englishman in wartime Britain may have also contributed to our lovers being excessively restrained. But it's hard to imagine such restraint in the face of such shattering events. And this extends to a handful of love scenes where Jordan has seemingly opted for vaguely graphic yet not very erotic or sensual. These frustrations aside, The End of the Affair is a beautiful film, entirely credible as a vehicle of its time and place, with Michael Nyman's insistent (sometimes relentlessly) score trying to conjure up passions that weren't matched on screen - not like The English Patient. The story itself is a fascinating exploration of what lawyers call 'mens rea' - or the real motive behind an action. In this case, the misunderstood motives of two lovers serve to bring about actions that are beyond control. Alongside this aspect is the subtle suggestion that perhaps God does interfere in our little lives - sometimes. At a price."
Andrew L. Urban

"Looking like every frame has been hand buffed by a team of experts, The End Of The Affair is classy romantic melodrama. Without the skills of writer-director Neil Jordan and the presence of Fiennes, Moore and Rea, the most autobiographical of Graham Greene's novels could have ended up as a load of old tosh on screen. That it doesn't can firstly be attributed to the masterful creation of the world these characters inhabit. The dank, musty gloom surrounding Bendix and Miles on that rainy night sets the tone for an excursion into love, jealousy and religion which borders on soap opera at times but is seen safely through by Jordan's impeccable handling - a major return to form after the dismal In Dreams. London during the blitz and immediate post-war England have scarcely looked so real and finely detailed as they do here. The trio of fine central performances is toplined by Fiennes' whose cold-fish screen persona finds a perfect match in the tortured Bendix. Rea's sad basset dog face and his grip on a character who doesn't really know how to love invests Henry with pathos and Julianne Moore continues her golden run of late with the most complex of the three. Also worthy of a nod is Ian Hart who steals every scene he's in as the cockney private detective with textbook-quality descriptions whenever he suspects "intimacy" has taken place. Unless you're devoutly religious it's hard to accept the severity of Sarah's decision which ends the affair and there's some unnecessary repetition during flashback sequences but the qualities far outweigh the shortcomings of this handsome production."
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

END OF THE AFFAIR (M)
(UK/US)

CAST: Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore, Stephen Rea, Ian Hart, Sam Bould, Jason Isaacs, James Bolam, Deborah Findlay

PRODUCERS: Neil Jordan, Kathy Sykes, Stephen Woolley

DIRECTOR: Neil Jordan

SCRIPT: Neil Jordan (Based on Graham Greene's novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roger Pratt

EDITOR: Tony Lawson

MUSIC: Michael Nyman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anthony Pratt

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 9, 2000

VIDEO RELEASE: October 18, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Home Entertainment







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