Main cast: Ralph Fiennes (Maurice Bendrix), Julianne Moore (Sarah Miles), Stephen Rea (Henry Miles), Ian Hart (Mr Parkis), James Bolam (Mr Savage), Sam Bould (Lance Parkis), Simon Fisher Turner (Doctor Gilbert), Jason Isaacs (Father Richard Smythe), Deborah Findlay (Miss Smythe), Nicholas Hewetson (Chief Warden), Jack McKenzie (Chief Engineer), and Nic Main (The Commanding Officer)
Director: Neil Jordan
The End of the Affair is a beautifully filmed and slickly plotted movie, and the great cast only make what is in actuality a rather empty movie very enjoyable.
Maurice Bendrix, a novelist, meets Sara Miles one day at a party, and they immediately have a hot and heavy affair despite the fact that she is very married to Henry. The whole affair ends quite explosively – literally – when World War 2 starts hitting London. After the war, Maurice meets Henry once again, and when Henry confides that he feels that Sara may be “seeing someone”, Maurice sees red.
You see, he is in love with Sara, obsessively so. So he hires a private detective, on Henry’s behalf, of course, to spy on Sara. Since Maurice doesn’t want Henry to worry, he won’t tell Henry about the investigator. Come to think of it, Mr Parkis can report straight to Maurice.
What follows is a story of how even the most obsessive and intense love could be thwarted by God. To explain more would be to give away the plot, so I’ll just say here that Ms Moore is a fine actress who can carry off brilliantly her thankless role as a woman who just can’t seem to do anything without being filled with self-doubts. I’m also not too keen of the whole Madonna/whore complex that is the theme of the story. Sara gets punished badly for the affair while Maurice gets off scot free. I hate this sort of double standards.
And Ralph Fiennes… honey, that man can stalk me anytime. His role as the British gentleman falling for a very married woman in early 20th century is fast becoming a cliché, but he is still very watchable as Maurice. That accent, and oh, those buttocks! Drool, oh drooly. Okay, I’m shallow, sue me.
The best roles are performed by Stephen Rea as the wronged husband and Hart as Mr Parkis. Henry Miles exhibits surprising depths as a man who just can’t live without Sara – he is dull and boring, hence he has no idea how to keep a vibrant wife whom he can’t live without. And Mr Parkis has some of the best scenes, especially when he realizes that he should’ve named his son Galahad instead of Lancelot.
“He’s called Lancelot after the knight who found the Holy Grail,” he told Maurice proudly.
“Galahad’s the one who found the Grail. Lancelot just found his way into Guinevere’s bed,” Maurice told him scathingly, and the look on poor Parkis’s face is priceless.
The End of the Affair succeeds in telling a tale of faith versus passion. And I must admit the thought of being stalked by Ralph Fiennes is a delicious one. But it is also very easy to forget once I’m out of the cinema. Except maybe those delicious portion of Mr Fiennes’s yummy anatomy.