The End of the Affair--Amm's "Film and Novel of the Month (or whenever she feels like updating)"
--More links, if I can find them.
--"The Stuart Affair"--a "Stuart Little meets TEOTA" story, based on the stupidity of my local theatre.
--More rambling, because you can never get enough.
While I didn't believe 1999 was "the year that changed films" (quote from EW) it still produced some brilliant and entertaining films. The Red Violin, The Messenger, Snow Falling on Cedars, Anna and the King, Mansfield Park... and, of course, this 'ere film. So why did I choose to showcase this film first, out of such a great line-up? Maybe an extremely verbose review will tell you. (Oh, I can just hear the sound of people scrolling. ;-) )
I came into this film with high expectations, and I left with it exceeding my expectations. To start off, let me say: The plot IS quite predictable. (So did it shock me? No. But unlike The Sixth Sense, it didn't rely on a "shocker" of an ending to make the whole film. But THAT is another story.) Although I usually fare expectionally well on the "predicting the outcome" scale, so it's very unusual that I do find an "unpredictable" film. The inevitable ending is made quite clear within the first twenty or so minutes, if I recall correctly. A film can be predictable, in my opinion, without ruining it as a whole... and, by golly, was this film brilliant as a whole.
While we have seen plots like this before, and inevitably we will again, so to call the plot "original" would be a lie. But this film has to be one of the most original in storytelling. If anything, the storytelling--the way they showcase the plot, the way it pans out--has to be my favourite aspect of the film. It treats the plot and the audience intelligently... and you can't say that about many films nowadays. I've never seen flashbacks used better. Added to the flashback and gradual storytelling are two things... the use of the typewriter as a way to get into Maurice Bendrix's head and pivotal scenes shown from two seperate points of view.
After reading the novel, while some was inevitably changed in the film adaptation (go to "changes from page to screen" for more info), it's amazing how much of the script comes straight from the novel. In a film world where books are literally butchered (think the 1953 Les Miserables adaptation) this was extremely refreshing... and it's one of the films where I can understand why the changes were made.
I will not touch upon giving you a synopsis, as I'm sure you can find that on all the other reviews (see links) and through the other ramblings on this site. So let me just conclude with a note on the acting. The entire cast excels (where IS it's "ensemble cast" nom for the SAG awards? Anyway...) it seems that Julianne Moore (Sarah Miles) has been given the most critical acclaim. While I agree she was great-maybe not Oscar-win-worthy-but great, the two men (Ralph Fiennes as Maurice Bendrix and Stephen Rea as Henry) certainly "steal the show." Fiennes would be Academy-Award worthy for even only the final scenes, and Rea was simplistic but absolutely brilliant.
To sum it up, I was riveted from "This is a diary of hate." to "Leave me alone forever." Two enthusiastic thumbs up, I laughed, I cried, 5 stars, run-don't walk-to see this, etcetera! ;-)
Of course, I ran to get the novel in record time. I read it in quite a short amount of time as well (though it's short, so I wouldn't call it record time. Anyway.) Guess what? The novel is just as brilliant as the film. Does this surprise you?
One thing that books usually have going against them for me is when they are in first person. I usually feel they are "limited" that way and don't reach it's fullest potential (think: Wuthering Heights. Brilliant, but could have been even better if only...). This novel happens to be first person, but for once I understand the need for it and believe it's made better in first person. There is a good chance this novel may have been a bit autobiographical for Graham Greene (he dedicates the book to his lover, who was a married woman of an friend of his. She was also a devout Catholic which may have brought him to Catholicism at the end of his life). Now that the factoid is out of the way: Besides that fact, there is no way it could have been as moving without being in first person, being told by Bendrix (and also through Sarah's diary). You absolutely need to "get into their psyche" for it to work. So, this very well may be, the first "book-in-first-person-that-I-agree-with-that-decision." *G*
The novel is also extremely brilliant, and both the novel and film have a thing in common: They are short, extremely short, yet you still leave satisfied. I usually need a big, 1,400 page epic... but what can go into just 190-or-so pages when done right!
Sum it up? Go see the film. Go read the book. The Queen comands it. ;)
1--In the novel, it is made clear Sarah had other affairs before Maurice. In the film, they do not go into her history either way.
2--In the novel, Sarah and Maurice never get the "holiday" they do before she dies in the film. In the novel, after Maurice comes after her after reading her diary, he asks to leave with her but she is already extremely ill and refuses.
3--...So, in the novel, Maurice never moves into Sarah's & Henry's house until after she is dead. Henry calls Maurice to tell him Sarah is dead and that he "doesn't fancy being alone." The "friendship" formed in the film while Sarah is dying is formed after her death in the novel.
4--In the book, there are two seperate characters. Mr. Smythe, who is an atheist. Sarah comes to him to try and talk her out of her new-found beliefs... and Father Crompton, who she comes to asking what she'd need to do to become a Catholic, and who is the one in the "I'm in hate." scene. In the film, they have Mr. Smythe as a Catholic priest.
5--In the book, Mr. Smythe is the one with an infection covering half his face, which clears up after Sarah kisses it. In the film, it's Parkises boy. In the novel, Parkises boy comes down with appendicitis after Sarah's death. Parkis asks Henry for something of Sarah's and he gives him one of her childhood books. Parkises boy then believes Sarah came to him in the night and freed his pain and wrote in the book for him. After this, he is cured.
6--In the book, there are 50 pages worth of the aftermath of Sarah's death introduce many minor characters that are not seen in the film.
The quite odd thing? For once, I can actually understand why most of these changes were made for the screen. Shocking, no?
To save room on this page for more rambling and links, I'm just linking the pictures I've uploaded. (*Consider that a hint that, obviously, these come from other sites and I take no credit.*)
Bendrix (Fiennes) and Henry (Rea) In The Rain (Two Oscar-Subbed Men *G*) Sarah (Moore) and Bendrix
The Unofficial Academy Awards Board : Well. TEOTA could pop up, even if it only got 2 nods. *G* Anyway, I love this board.
The Oscars Board (AOL Members Only): Same as above. Though this is put into categories... picture, director, actor, actress... and "films that should have been nominated." Hmmm... *G*
The End of the Affair Board (AOL Members Only): Post your thoughts on the film.
A&E Online Book Club: The End of the Affair: My only site I've found just for the novel. A message board, synopsis, "things to think about while you read" and an interview with Neil Jordan, the director of the latest film version, which I thought was a must-read.
Yahoo's! The End of the Affair Message Board: More message boards. I can't get enough.
The End of the Affair Production Notes : I'm guessing this comes from the press kit.
The Official End of the Affair Site : Cast list, showtimes, links to buy the soundtrack, and photos that all the fan sites use. *G* Although I will say it seems to have the trailer and a few extra clips, one of which I don't think was in the final cut, but I haven't viewed them yet.
IMDB End of the Affair Site : It has what all the IMDB listings do... the summary, taglines, posters, user comments, filmographies...etc.
The End of the Affair: Part of a Jason Isaacs(who played Smythe) fan site. Has an interesting article about the UK rating for the film, among other things, and a handy-dandy link to TEOTA merchandise on auction at EBay. Tempting, I tell you. *G*
Movie Review Query: The End of the Affair: 97 TEOTA reviews. Who would ever read that many? Why, I have no idea... ;-)
Ralph Fiennes Articles 1999: Part of a Ralph Fiennes fan site. Lots of TEOTA interviews and such from November on.
Ralph Fiennes Articles 2000: More TEOTA interviews and articles.
The End of the Affair Multimedia: Part of another Ralph Fiennes fan site. Lots of clips from TEOTA interviews, and such.
Double Background courtesy of THE Background Boutique.