The End Of The Affair
Adapted from Graham Greene's 1951 novel, The End Of The Affair is an acid-tinged love story about spiritual emptiness and romantic tragedy. But its bitterness is a large part of what makes it so incredibly seductive—a fitting contradiction for characters who confess to nostalgia for the London bombing raids. Few directors seem better suited to the material than Neil Jordan, a part-time novelist whose best films, such as Mona Lisa and The Crying Game, have the enveloping quality of great fiction. His rueful touch informs Greene's complicated wartime tale about an adulterous affair that gets tangled up in jealousy and an unexpected flash of Catholic grace. Ralph Fiennes is ideally cast as Greene's alter-ego, a sardonic young author who involves himself with Julianne Moore, the wife of old friend Stephen Rea. Since their romance is doomed from the start, much of the story plays out two years after its mysterious end, when Fiennes' lingering obsession with Moore leads him to hire a private detective (a scene-stealing Ian Hart) to follow her around. Though it sounds simple enough in description, The End Of The Affair is arranged like an intricate puzzle, with time constantly doubling up on itself and each scene placed for maximum emotional impact. The effect is almost dreamlike in its intensity—aided immensely by Michael Nyman's hypnotic score and Roger Pratt's glossy, old-fashioned lighting effects—yet Greene's vicious one-liners are as sobering as a splash of cold water. For all the film's effortless style, Jordan never seems overburdened by its weighty themes, even when God winds up dictating the action.