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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Midnight Matinee: The End of the Affair, 1999

Rated R, 102 minutes
*some nudity


So, midnight, I should be going to bed, because I’m tired, and it’s dark out, and the tired thing…But I just had this little mood I get sometimes, this movie craving… which leads to the inevitable watching of movies.—I didn't have anything in mind, but we just got netflix, so I started going through all the suggestions of “movies I might like” and somehow landed on The End of the Affair—actually, I know what it was, it had Stephen Rea, who I've totally had a crush on since I saw the movie Guinevere.—Incidentally, the movie has absolutely nothing to do with King Arthur or his knights, or that Guinevere; the main character is a complete womanizer and calls all of his girlfriends "Guinevere."  And it still made me completely fall in love with him.

Anyway, I would totally recommend The End of the Affair, if you haven't seen it (or even if you have)—It also has Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore (kind of the stars)...and a small role with Jason Isaacs (for Harry Potter fans out there, that’s Lord Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy, respectively.)

It's not at all the kind of thing I usually pick out (even though I'll watch anything, really)...I’m not super big on Ralph Fiennes, either—He kind of scares me with all his über-intensity (Red Dragon, Maid in Manhattan, The Duchess)—Actually, he was kind of fantastic in all of those, but I just have a hard time watching him, like he’s about to explode, or something—but despite my normal misgivings, I thought I'd give it a try, anyway.  Even as it started, very kind of solemn, whispery, and rainy, I was on the edge of my seat, ready to look for a new movie—But it only took me a few of those captivating rainy, whispery seconds, to be hooked—I could feel something in the air, something about to happen, and that was all it took.

I could tell you that The End of the Affair is your classic war-time (WWII) love-triangle-tragedy, except there wasn’t anything traditional or predictable about it.  Sure, the wife (Julianne Moore) says her husband doesn’t really love her, understand her, need her…  Except her husband (Stephen Rea) doesn’t really understand her or need her, and even he doesn’t realize how much he loves her until it’s too late.  And of course her lover (Ralph Fiennes) is everything she needs, he understands her, and it would be one of those all-consuming fiery, swept-away combustible love affairs.

Combustible being the operative word, because Sarah’s lover is a very jealous man, of her stockings because “they kiss her leg” as he cannot, of her shoes because “they will take [her] away from [him],” and of her husband, Henry, because she will always go home to him.  Maurice is so jealous and needy, he can’t stop thinking about the end, about losing her, and the audience can’t help but think his jealousy is going to push her away.  Except, we meet Maurice two years after the end, and neither of us knows what happened, why she left him before he ever pushed her away.

We meet Maurice, perhaps just as he’s finally gotten on with his life, but by chance he happens to run into Henry, who seems lost, practically drowning in the rain.  Henry, who was apparently oblivious to the affair two years previous, is now fraught with worry that Sarah is seeing someone else.  And the jealous, abandoned lover, can’t help himself from wanting to find out about his replacement, whom he assumes must have caused the end of his affair—It’s what Maurice feared all along, that if she would cheat on Henry, that she would cheat on him, and his jealousy won’t let him stop until he discovers the truth, once and for all.

Henry suggests hiring a detective to follow Sarah, but Henry doesn’t want to follow through; he doesn’t want to believe that there really is an affair.  So, Maurice offers to hire the detective on his behalf, which Henry declines.  But Maurice does it anyway.

And even as Maurice has her followed, his and Sarah’s lives begin to intertwine again, they seem to seek each other out, and at the same time to keep missing each other… They seem almost meant to be.

But what secrets is Sarah hiding?  Why did she leave Maurice?

Based on the novel by Graham Greene, The End of the Affair is epic love-triangle-mystery-tragedy that will keep you riveted until the very end.




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