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IN SHORT: Just OK. [Rated [R], 105 minutes]
If you made a promise to God, from the bottom of your heart and the depth of your soul, would you keep it if He answered your prayer? Think about that for a second before you rush to answer. Now consider this...
What do you think He would do if you didn't keep your end of the bargain?
That God works in mysterious ways and that humans are emotionally fragile, and sometimes petty, creatures is at the heart of The End of the Affair, in which a passionate adultery yields unusual results. The film is adapted from Graham Greene's novel, itself based on an adulterous affair the author experienced and, as always, no other reference or comparison will be made to the Source Material.
But, gee, the English are so darned understated that watching The End of the Affair is like looking at a piece of translucent glass. We can see through most of it, but there's still that cloudy interior -- which pretty much sums up "writer" Maurice Bendrix' (Ralph Fiennes) style. His attraction to Sarah Miles (Julianne Moore) is immediate, as is hers to his. Sarah's marriage may be "convenient" -- her husband Henry (Stephen Rea) is a Senior government official whose job brings with it money, a position in society and probably a better than average allotment of ration coupons in this WWII era story-- but he's a real wet blanket in the love department. The rigors of the job leave Sarah a husband who is little more than a bookmark in her daily calendar, and it is at Henry's insistence that his wife and the "novelist next door" venture to the cinema to see a moving picture based on one of his books. After dinner and a return to an empty house, well . . .
Henry did insist. There's a very funny bit of dialog at this point which I'll leave up to you to discover.
Most of the film is set in flashback, just after World War II. Maurice happens across a disconsolate Henry, wandering about in the pouring rain. Henry fears that his wife is cheating on him and reveals that he's thought of hiring a private detective. Maurice gets Henry home and -- this is long after the affair ended -- hires the detective Parkis (Ian Hart) himself. As the story works its way back in time, we get to see the important moments again and again, each from different viewpoints. When the detective makes his report, neither will like what they discover. It comes back to the question I posed at the top of this page. I'm not being cryptic. Just translucent. The story here is so small that, unless you can get lost in the subtleties of the acting, it's just not enough.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The End of the Affair, he would have paid...
For the arthouse. Everybody else rent or get it on pay per view. The End of the Affair would work just as well in a darkened room with a non-stop teevee cablecast.
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