UK / 1999
Writer and Director: Neil Jordan from the novel by Graham Greene
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore, Stephen Rea, Heather Jay-Jones, Ian Hart, James Bolam, Sam Bould, Cyril Shaps, Penny Morrell, Jason Isaacs
On a rainy London night in 1946, successful novelist Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) has a chance meeting with old civil servant friend Henry Miles (Stephen Rea). A couple of years previously, Bendrix had enjoyed a passionate affair with Henry’s wife Sarah (Julianne Moore), which she then abruptly broke off without giving him a reason. Overwhelmed by curiosity, Maurice follows Henry back to his house, where he re-encounters Sarah. Henry asks Maurice to help him have Sarah followed as he believes she is meeting someone secretly.
As Maurice engages once more in his obsession with Sarah and gives full vent to his bitterness, he becomes desperate for an explanation to her peculiar behaviour years before. When he gains access to her diary through private detective Parkis (Ian Hart), he learns that, far from being a fickle mistress, Sarah had loved him deeply and made a bargain with God to never see him again if his life would be spared in a bombing raid. Meanwhile, Sarah cannot keep her bargain with Bendrix once again, but is time running out for them?
The End of the Affair had also been filmed in 1955 but Ralph Fiennes’ version of tortured novelist Bendrix is that much more convincing than Van Johnson’s portrayal of the character, and the film revels in a period detail lacking in the previous version. Jordan’s film presents a haunting tale of repression and restraint and succeeds admirably in filming a novel notoriously difficult to bring to the big screen.