109 minute feature film DVD starring Ian Hart, James Bolam and Julianne Moore.
"This is a diary of hate," pounds out novelist Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) on his typewriter as he recounts the lost love of his life in this spiritual memoir (based on Graham Greene's novel) with a startling twist. It's London 1946, and Maurice runs into his achingly dull school friend Henry (Stephen Rea with a perpetually gloomy hangdog expression). Their meeting is brittle, all small talk and chilly, mannered civility beautifully captured by director-screenwriter Neil Jordan (The Crying Game
), and it only barely thaws when Henry suggests that his wife, Sarah (the luminous Julianne Moore), may be having an affair. Maurice's mind reels back to his passionate affair with Sarah during the war years, which she abruptly broke off two years ago. Gripped with a jealousy that hasn't abated, he hires a private detective (a mousy, marvelous Ian Hart) to shadow her movements. He prepares himself for the revelation of a rival but instead finds a deeper, more profound secret: "I tempted fate," she writes in her diary, "and fate accepted."
Jordan's cool remove captures the unease beneath formal manners but never warms into intimacy during the scenes between the lovers, even while Fiennes and Moore almost explode in repressed emotions, their faces cracking under their masks of civility and their resolve shaking through jittery body language. There's more thought than feeling behind this collision of passion and spirituality, but it's a sincere, richly realized portrait of ennui and rage against God energized by brief moments of shattering drama. --Sean Axmaker