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This movie is timeless
goldilocks_7823 April 2004
‘Maurice' had a deep emotional impact on me when I first saw it in my early teens, more than ten years ago. I just saw it again for the first time since then and I was a bit worried that I would be disappointed, but then I was definitely not. It still had the same magic.

To me, this is the #1 Merchant-Ivory work. I find this movie astoundingly profound compared to several other of their movies. This movie is above all accomplished by the excellent acting. It tells a pure and convincing story about struggling to be true to oneself in a world of not only prejudice and firm standards but even serious legal sanctions.

I think ‘Maurice' is far more romantic, and sexy, than most heterosexual love stories I have seen. The love and longing of these men seems so real and pure, especially by the fact that they are consistently being told that their inclination is `unspeakable', and their futures and careers are at stake.

It is great to see Hugh Grant in an early role (his first real movie role?) that is so different from the mainstream comedy entertainer he has become. The ending is stunning. I love that the movie ended exactly where it did, although it is a dread to acknowledge that the war would break out soon after. The music score is enthralling. And Alec Scudder is so beautiful that it hurts.
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Fabulous, Beautiful and Romantic
ttugreeklady13 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The filmmakers did an incredible job of bringing E.M. Forster's touching novel to life -- and I suspect that was no easy task because so much of the novel involves the main character's innermost thoughts and feelings. However, Merchant and Ivory did a beautiful job conveying the loneliness, fear and desperation of the main character, Maurice Hall.

The movie follows Maurice (James Wilby) down his road of self-discovery; from his embarrassing teen years to Cambridge (where he gets his first exhilarating taste of love) to his post-collegiate years as a young man struggling to come to terms with his sexuality in a time when homosexuals were mercilessly persecuted.

The movie is also very much about class struggle. Maurice is a gentleman born and bred, with a penchant for snobbery. As he comes to terms with his sexuality, he is forced to deal with differences in class when he realizes he is in love with someone from the serving class.

Readers of the novel will be delighted as much of the wonderful dialogue from the book appears in the film.

The characters were perfectly cast, with Hugh Grant (before he was a mega star) as Clive Durham, the perfect young gentleman from Cambridge (and Maurice's first love), Rupert Graves as the smoldering, lower class hunk who wins Maurice's heart, and Ben Kingsley in a hilarious turn as Maurice's junk-psychologist. James Wilby was spot-on in the title role and he perfectly captures the isolation, sadness and ultimate joy of the conflicted Maurice.

"Maurice" is a touching love story that anyone -- straight or gay -- can enjoy. Romance knows neither of these terms. And, the movie *is* unabashedly romantic and optimistic -- your heart will soar when Maurice finally gives in, casts societal conventions aside and visits his beloved at the boathouse. The hopeful ending is inspiring, though the close-up of Clive at the window at the end of the movie will break your heart.

Beautifully filmed, superbly acted -- a must-see film.
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An absolutely classic about 'the love that dare not speak its name'.
A gay classic that is situated at the beginning of the twentieth century. 'Maurice' is the story of Maurice Hall, a student at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. There he meets Clive Durham. Both men develop a strong friendship, which to a certain level, becomes physical. Clive is gay, but Maurice doesn't want to know anything about it. Until he admits he also has feelings for persons of the same sex, even though in intellectual circles homosexuality is 'the love that dare not speak its name'.

Maurice doesn't know how to behave. Of course he wants to be himself, but society doesn't accept gay people. When he more or less decides to live as a gay man bosom friend Clive changes his mind, frightened by a lawsuit against a gay man. According to Clive the physical friendship between Maurice and Clive must end and from that moment on he wants to experience real love: the love of a woman. The relation between Maurice and Clive gets tense.

Even Maurice tries to get his sexual preference changed by visiting a hypnotist, but the treatment fails. That becomes very clear when Maurice sleeps with Scudder, Clive's under gamekeeper. A passionate love develops between Scudder and Maurice, which makes Clive realize what kind of appearance he has to keep up as a 'converted' gay man.

'Maurice' is based on the novel of the same name written by E.M. Forster. The film is beautiful and made with a feeling for historical notion. The actors playing the leading roles are straight in real life but act the gay roles in a beautiful way. Actually everything in the film is right: image, usage of language, costumes and music.
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On Scudder and Maurice's future
ekeby27 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'd like to add my two cents' worth of speculation about what the impact of class differences would have been on Alec and Maurice as a couple.

Maurice is middle class, not upper class, as Clive's mother makes clear when Maurice offers her his hand at their first meeting. The gaffe is surprising, because even here in America it was a rule that a man never offered his hand to a woman unless she extended hers first. Maurice seems not to know this, for he extends his hand to Clive's mother even though she has not offered it. We see a flash of surprise on her face as she tepidly accepts and shakes his hand. It's funny, and a little painful, if you understand what's happening.

That little bit of business shows us that the gulf between upper class Clive and middle class Maurice is every bit as wide as that between Maurice and working class Alec. If we take it as a matter of fact that Maurice could survive in Clive's world--and we see him doing so--why should we be any less willing to admit that Alec could survive in Maurice's?

We shouldn't. Maurice expects Clive to treat him as an equal just as Alec expects Maurice to treat him as an equal. In fact, Alec demonstrates repeatedly that he IS Maurice's equal, and he even tells Maurice so to his face. After they've "shared" Alec drops some of his deference to Maurice (but not entirely, after all, some of it is just automatic from habit), but he talks to him as an equal: "Ordering me about again--you would!" and "My people wouldn't take to you either, and I wouldn't blame them" and, most effectively, "What does your engagement matter?"

And, too, a lot of what might be thought of as their class difference is perhaps more about the differences in their environments. Alec is a country boy and Maurice is a suburban/urban boy. These are lifestyles that are very different but they are lifestyles that can become familiar, even comfortable, with exposure.

Alec would make the relationship work. Alec has initiative (he climbs in the window and stays), and determination (he goes to London). We need to remember that when we express apprehension about the happy couple's future.

Overall I had the impression that Alec would be a quick study, adapting easily to whatever joint lifestyle he chooses for them. After all, Alec will be the boss of the relationship, as made apparent when he delivers what is probably THE most romantic line in all of gay cinema, "Now we shan't never be parted. It's finished."

I too think they would have emigrated, to Canada or the U.S., or anyplace where the differences in their accents would not be so obvious. They would live someplace where they would be perceived as two Englishmen, rather than as two different kinds of Englishmen.

After a couple years, Alec's eye would wander, and he would stray. But he'd be sure to be home every night with Maurice, snug as bugs in a rug.
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Simply a must!!!!
WinstonMacBride4 January 2003
I ran into this movie a long, long time ago, watching the TV news one evening back in 1987. I felt as I couldn't miss it as soon as I realized it had been shot in Cambridge, my favorite place in the world, but all my feelings went much beyond that when I saw it. I didn't feel uneasy about homosexuality at all but it was with that movie that I finally realized it was only love, no matter whether it involved a man and a woman, or two men, or two women.... The set is magnificent, the actors at their best (a great Hugh Grant who was so great as to show how Mr E.M.Forster had become tired with Clive...), and I must say that Mr Ivory did a pretty good job with his version of the story, very well adapted. In fact I do believe the book is superior in many moments but, on the other hand, the film is far far superior in many other moments, and you can't really say this all the times. I suggest everybody should watch it and enjoy it, no matter what your sexual preferences are. A masterpiece, indeed!
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Tender and romantic
Andre D7 February 2005
I remember I saw this movie I was about 17. I'd read the book and fell in love. It tells a love story between two men and the way they have to carry it out despite society rules (with some changes it still happens nowadays...).

The general message would be "love conquers all" but is it really so? Are Maurice and Scudder able to live happily ever after? I doubt, and on the beginning of the XXth century it would be even worse.

Despite all, it's lovely to watch the same kind of story we're used to watching in movies that portray society in different times, but now speaking about love between men! Although James Ivory's work is beyond criticism, in my point a view, there were some scenes in the book (the one when they are in London, sitting naked by the fire, for instance) that really should be in the movie.

But it's a tender and romantic approach of of book (only published after E.M. Foster's death) that surely would have pleased it's author.
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An Impeccably Produced Adpatation
harry-768 April 2000
E. M. Forster's novel, "Maurice," is given a first-rate screen adaptation by this British production. James Ivory's direction is very cinematic, conveying the multi-layered story through a series of dramatic scenes, with just a bit of over-voice narration. Its impact comes through an incremental effect, reaching moving proportions by the end of the lengthy presentation. James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves and Helena Bonham Carter are all excellent, heading a superior cast. Every aspect of the production has been carefully prepared and executed.

What emerges for me is the tragedy of societal constraint, under the guise of virtue. It is a tightrope to walk for the free-wheeling, independent thinker in this society: he who steps outside the bounds of regularity is subject to scorn and persecution. That the drama's heros do not fall into the mode of so-called "normalcy" leave them open to a lifestyle of tension and risk. Forster beautifully conveys this in the novel, and Ivory transfers it to the screen with great skill.

Certainly "Maurice" is one of the top motion pictures of the 80s. Kudos to all who took part in bringing this poignant novel to the screen.
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a closer look of gay life
Rita Chang31 January 2006
Before I watch Maurice, I almost had no idea of the life of gays. I used to hold the notion that homosexuality was unacceptable and disgusting, which was under the influence of some so-called orthodox thinking. As the time goes by, I gradually realized that you can't make a judgment before truly knowing something about it. Truth is not told by "everybody" but explored and medicated by yourself. And the movie "Maurice" has provided me with a good chance to have a better look at the true life of gays, to perceive their pure and pristine affections towards the same sex, to feel their struggle and desperation under public prejudice and pressure. Though my life is a far cry from that of Maurice and Clive portrayed in the movie, it seems that I can understand them perfectly and are quite empathetic with them. I think that is because what is expressed in the movie is undoubtedly part of human nature, which can strike a chord in the depth of every human being's heart. For that reason, one line in the movie stroke me deeply. When Maurice's psychological doctor advised him to emigrate to countries such as France and Italy where homosexuality was no longer criminal, he said:" England has always been disinclined to accept human nature."

A great movie!
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A Gorgeous Adapation of a Very Personal Novel
gregorybnyc25 February 2005
I saw MAURICE when it first appeared in theaters in the mid-80s and enjoyed it. I was surprised on a second viewing on DVD last night at how much I had forgotten about this film. This story of a thwarted love affair between two upper- class men during their years at Cambridge is a deeply absorbing and entertaining adaptation of Forster's posthumously published novel, which I read at in 1971. I thought the book rather dull. The movie seems anything but, which makes me wonder if I shouldn't pull it off my library shelves and give it another go.

Though James Wilby's Maurice Hall is the main character, it is Hugh Grant young aristocrat that is most intriguing here. Clive Durham (Grant) is a spoiled and deeply entrenched member of Britain's snobbish ruling class. It is Durham who pursues Wilby (not the other way around as some of these reviews would have you believe). Initially spooked by Durham's admission of his love for Maurice, he pursues Durham with a naive passion. But that passion is ruined when a fellow classmate from Cambridge is set up by a soldier in a bar and arrested by the police. This young man's future in politics and society is ruined (horrified, Durham says no to him when he asks to testify on his behalf), and he is found guilty and sentenced to six months in jail and hard labor. His picture is splashed across the headlines of London's tabloids. The realization that this could happen to him forces Durham to reject Maurice, pursue and marry a young girl from his class and move himself deeply into the closet. So much for the politics of homosexuality in Britain, circa 1912.

Maurice is devastated by his friend's rejection of him. Miserable, he seeks every avenue he can to reverse and cure his own homosexual longings. He even subjects himself to the quackery of a hypnotist-therapist (Ben Kinsley in a hilarious turn). Maurice finally gives in to his feelings when he finally falls deeply in love with the gamekeeper of Durham's estate (well played by the young and very handsome Rupert Graves).

This Merchant-Ivory film is, typically, gorgeous to look at, its pacing is novelistic and deeply rewarding. Hugh Grant showed early star appeal as the superficial and ultimately defeated victim of his class and society. He would rarely get the chance at so fine a part in the future despite his great success as a light comedian in a string of international hit movies (ABOUT A BOY being one such terrific film performance from this very appealing actor). James Wilby is pitch perfect as the perplexed and emotional Maurice. The expert supporting cast under the commanding direction of James Ivory delivers this period piece superbly. It's period look is typical of Merchant-Ivory productions--detailed, richly appointed and very beautiful. Kudos also to Kit Hesketh-Harvey's excellent screenplay.

One viewer here complained that ending was far too upbeat and unrealistic for its time, but I really didn't see it that way. There were many men and women who set up housekeeping in both London and New York, living their lives in discreet harmony under the noses of hostile societies. Still others preferred to move abroad to live their lives in discrete peace and tranquility. I prefer to think this is just what Maurice and Scudder do. If Maurice were as much of a snob as Durham, this might not have worked. But we see Maurice's slow understanding of the hypocrisy of his class in the aftermath of his affair with Durham, and he comes to realize that even he is somewhat constrained by his own upper-class upbringing in his initial interactions with Scudder's far lower standing.

This is a deeply affecting movie and holds up superbly. Highly recommended.
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I owe Hugh Grant an apology!!!
hughman557 August 2009
I really liked this movie when I first saw it in 1987. I like it even more today. This is the story of two gay men in the early 20th Century, how they fall in love, how they fall apart, and how they eventually take very different paths. One that leads to a life of sadness and regret. The other to acceptance, love, and fulfillment.

James Wilby gives a powerful performance as Maurice, a middle class gentleman who discovers his homosexuality while away for college at Cambridge University. It is there he meets and falls in love with Clive Durham, played brilliantly by Hugh Grant, an upper class gentleman who lives in a decaying English manor, called Pendersligh Park, that was built by his grandfather's grandfather. They enter into a passionate, albeit sexless, relationship that most viewers will see as doomed from the start. Maurice, once he overcomes his internal conflict over who and what he actually is, is drowning in love for Clive. Clive on the other hand, though he is in love with Maurice, is perhaps more in love with the idea of Maurice, than Maurice himself. When outside circumstances intervene, their world together comes crashing down, and the results are painful for both.

One of the plot devices that I found intriguing, and not having read the book I don't know if it is part of the original story, is Simcox, Clive's butler, played menacingly and effectively by Patrick Godfrey. He informs the viewer of the disapproval and judgment directed at Maurice and Clive that IS Edwardian England. Simcox delivers even the most banal lines with an almost imperceptible sneer. Even when he has no lines he is lurking in the background of the scene with a stone cold gaze that says, "I know what you're up to." He is the warden. Edwardian England is the prison. And Pendersleigh Park is Clives cell.

I missed many of the finer points of this film the first time I saw it in 1987. Back then the ending disappointed me because I identified with Maurice and I felt like he waked away with the second prize, Alec Scudder. And Clive caved to the pressures of Edwardian England and entered into a marriage he was never suited for. All of that was true then, and is still true today. However, with 20 plus years of maturation behind me I now understand that when the credits role at the end of this film Clive is as deeply in love with Maurice as he ever was.

The finale of the film is a window into the lifeless, hopeless, longing, that is Clive's future, contrasted with that of the fulfillment and joy that will be Maurice's. After Clive and Maurice have their final words, Clive returns to his waiting wife inside Pendersleigh. Simcox asks, "will there will be anything else sir?", and then proceeds to close the house shutters for the night. You can almost hear the sound of cell doors closing for lights out in a penitentiary. Clive approaches his wife, who is seated in front of her vanity mirror. He leans in to kiss her cheek and they look up together into the mirror in front of them. They expect to see a happy couple. They don't. There is a sadness in Clive's eyes that they are both unprepared for. It is more shocking to Clive because now he is no longer fooling even himself. He pulls uncomfortably away from his wife and like a prisoner resigned to his confinement, he finishes closing the shutters, (the cell doors of Pendersleigh) one by one. As he comes to the last one he takes a final look out the window at freedom. Clive has chosen to accept society, and turn its turmoil toward him inward where he will always be conflicted and never know a moment of peace. Maurice has decided to accept who he is and deal with the turmoil in the world outside. It is heartbreaking.

James Wilby carries this movie from start to finish. As Maurice it is his story to tell and tell it he does. From adolescent bewilderment, to revulsion with Clive's initial advances, to falling in love with Clive, then heartbreak, and finally to his own sunset to walk into. He never has a foot out of place. It is an honest and compelling performance. But it is Hugh Grant's complex and multi layered Clive that you're left with ricocheting around in your soul. When Clive says to Maurice, "It's like the good blundering creature that you are to try and comfort me, but there are limits," Grant conveys a sense of defeat, resignation, and emptiness that is almost too difficult to watch. At times he stares very far away. Probably to the place where he wishes he could be, but seems impossible to reach. I think because initially I was so personally disappointed in his characters evolution throughout the course of the movie, that I missed what a brilliant performance this was. Forgive me Mr. Grant. You are a truly talented actor.

This is a brilliant film. It's all there: beautiful story, beautiful landscape cinematography, great script(small problem though with the editing and non-sequitur dialog when Scudder meets Maurice in London), great direction, perfect score, and above all two brilliant performances from James Wilby and Hugh Grant and many others in the supporting cast. This one is a must see.
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The real life story behind E.M. Forster's book
p-n-taylor19 January 2006
Many viewers and critics have criticised the happy ending of this film as being 'unrealistic' or even 'impossible'. After all an upper class and working class man could never live as a couple in Edwardian England? In fact E.M. Forster's inspiration for writing the book Maurice was a real gay couple, one upper class and the other working class, who lived together openly in England for about 35 years until 1928. They are buried in the same grave.

Edward Carpenter was a close friend of E.M.Forster, who named Carpenter's working class gay partner, George Merrill, as the inspiration for his novel Maurice. He had visited Carpenter and Merrill at Millthorpe in Derbyshire on several occasions: once, in 1913, Merrill "touched my backside - gently and just above the buttocks. I believe he touched most people's. The sensation was unusual and I still remember it, as I remember the position of a long vanished tooth. He made a profound impression on me and touched a creative spring" That was the origin for the writing of Maurice.
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More Enlightened Times
bkoganbing24 March 2008
E.M. Forster (1879-1970) as a gay man lived long enough to see the Stonewall Rebellion happen across the pond the year before his death at the age of 91. Though close friends knew he was gay, as prescribed by the mores of the times, Forster led a quiet, discreet, and circumspect life. He was not a political person, first and foremost he was a novelist, though in his writings you can some trenchant comments about the political, never more so in his A Passage To India.

My guess is that if Stonewall didn't happen here and other developments such as the Wolfenden report recommending decriminalization of homosexuality in the United Kingdom hadn't happened, Maurice might never have seen the light of day. My guess is that Forster would have opted for a time capsule, hoping this novel of young same sex love would see the light of day in more enlightened times. He got to see those enlightened times come before he died, so Forster's novel Maurice was published in 1971 and came to the screen in 1987.

Forster's protagonist is Maurice Hall a young man with some unwanted gay feelings, unwanted because at the time those things were not discussed. Young Maurice forms an attachment with school chum Clive Durham. To put it in more modern terms they're the British boarding school equivalent of Ennis Delmar and Jack Twist.

And they view their relationship differently as did Jack and Ennis. Maurice truly hates the stifling conformity of Edwardian Great Britain, but Clive wants to put it behind him, get married and do as proper British society demands of him.

James Wilby is Maurice and Hugh Grant in one of his earliest roles is the shallow Clive. Maurice takes a path that E.M. Forster took in life as a gay man, as open as he could be, but most discreet.

I do wonder who the Clive character was based on. I also wonder if in the future, the proper Mr. Clive might have been giving the toe tapping signal in some bathroom stall looking to satisfy his real and closeted lusts.

There is also a great performance by Rupert Graves as Alec Scudder the stable-hand at Clive's estate who Maurice eventually does establish a relationship and some measure of happiness. It will be a tough road for them, not very many places on the earth will be that hospitable in the years just before World War I.

Maurice was written around 1910, a decade or so after the Oscar Wilde scandal and six years before Roger Casement's diaries were opened to the public to justify hanging him as a traitor in the Easter Rebellion. The gay baiting there was a deliberate tactic by the British government to shake popular support away from the rebels in Ireland. These were not good times for Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered people.

E.M. Forster wrote the novel and tucked it away. It's a beautiful work and a beautiful film made from same. I'm glad in the final couple of years of life, Forster saw the more enlightened times come so we could have a glimpse of what life was like for a young gay male in Edwardian Great Britain.
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Now we shan't ne'er be parted...It's finished...
SkipG23 October 1998
This is the most emotional love story I have ever viewed. I first saw the film when I was about 14, and I had no problem sitting through the entire two and a half hours of rich period drama. Merchant and Ivory are two of the best filmmakers ever, and they treat this delicate subject with grace and tact. It makes being a gay teenager a little more bearable, because it is one of the few movies in which the gay lead finds love, and survives. An altogether edifying experience.
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"England has always been disinclined to accept human nature."
Chris-18912 October 1998
"Maurice" (prononced "Morris") is the film adaption of the book by E.M. Forster and stated to be semi-autobiographical of his life. The book was banned for many years and it wasn't until 1987 that this visually splendid film was released from Merchant-Ivory - ("A Room With A View", "Howard's End"). Set in early 19th century England, it details the coming of age story of Maurice Hall, an upper-class aristocrat who falls in love with fellow classmate Clive Durham (Hugh Grant). Shortly after their romance begins, a fellow student is entrapped and imprisoned for soliciting a military officer. Out of fear of losing his inheritance and political future, Clive decides to get married. Although hurt and feeling very alone, Maurice continues a close platonic relationship with Clive. After attempts to "cure" his homosexuality fail, Maurice finds himself falling in love with Clive's gamekeeper, Scudder. With the threat of exposure and blackmail always a real possibility, they must risk everything to build a future together. Supporting performances by Denholm Elliot, Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Kingsley help make this a true classic. The lush and elegant score is available as part a 3-disc set of Merchant-Ivory film scores. Guys, if you're looking for a great "first-date" video, it really doesn't get much better than "Maurice"!
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Hopelessy romantic
Martin Bradley8 April 2006
When E M Forster wrote "Maurice" homosexuality was considered a mental illness, a criminal offence, an aberration, a sin against God, (it still is in some quarters). It wasn't so long since Oscar Wilde was jailed for sodomy and Forster, had his own homosexuality become public knowledge, would certainly have found himself in a similar predicament and would never have enjoyed the literary eminence that he did. So consequently, moved though he was to write the book, gave instructions that it should not be published until after his death, and Forster lived for a very long time. When "Maurice" eventually did see the light of day, it seemed terribly dated. 'I'm an unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort', Maurice tells his doctor in a feeble attempt to be 'cured' of his 'affliction', and a line which the movie retains. Gay literature had come a long way in the interim and homosexuality was no longer seen as an illness nor a crime.

But Forster's view of homosexuality was, surprisingly, not a tortured, shame-filled one but touchingly, if ridiculously, romantic. When Maurice finally does find true love, it cuts across all barriers including class and has the lovers retreating, like some gay Adam and Eve, to 'the greenwood'. It seems unrealistic but at the same time liberating long before the term 'gay liberation' was ever coined.

James Ivory's screen version is remarkably faithful to the original and consequently risks ridicule in this so-called more enlightened age. But Ivory's intelligence as a film-maker has long been over-looked in favour of an emphasis on his prettified recreations of the past. Yet he remains the pre-eminent chronicler in British cinema, (though American and consistently working with an Indian producer, Ismail Merchant), of a particular period in British history mostly through adaptations of novels by writers of the period or by contemporary authors writing about the period. But when Ivory did adapt 'classic' literature, he concentrated on the best and working mostly with the great writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, brought to bear on these adaptations a deeply felt and genuine appreciation of their worth.

Hence "Maurice" is as fastidiously good as we have come to expect, the difference being that this time the script is not by Jhabvala but by Ivory himself and Kit Hesketh-Harvey. In every other respect it looks and feels typically 'Merchant-Ivory', a term some people believe stultified British cinema at a time when other directors were making edgy, contemporary 'new-wave' films. But that is like condemning well-acted, well-crafted Shakespeare just because it's old.

"Maurice" is a superbly acted, visually gorgeous film, though at times its fidelity to its source means that sometimes certain scenes feel stilted, (you make want to give these people a good shaking). And did they need to cast actors as beautiful as James Wilby (Maurice), Hugh Grant, (his first great love, Clive Durham), and Rupert Graves, (the game-keeper Scudder, shades of a gay Lady Chatterly, the boy he finally falls for)? All three play wonderfully well and Ivory populates his film with a cast of wonderful character actors, (Simon Callow, Denholm Elliot, Billie Whitelaw, Judy Parfitt), all playing at the top of their form.

Of course, both book and film have now largely been set aside as dated and irrelevant in the annals of gay literature and cinema. Surely not. The film remains as much an integral part of the history and consequential progress of main-stream gay movie-making as "Brokeback Mountain", (though by no means as commercially successful), as it is an integral part of the Merchant-Ivory stable. Anyone remotely interested in either should seek it out.
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A Major Milestone Movie
rogerneon13 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw "Maurice" when it was in theatrical release a long time ago, and was absolutely captivated. I actually bought a VHS copy of it back when they cost something like $80, so I was really glad to be able to get the Special Edition DVD set, which includes several deleted scenes.

However, back to the title of this review: "Maurice" was a milestone or watershed movie because it has a happy ending. Before it was produced, almost all movies with a gay theme ended either tragically or without a conclusion. Following that old formula, it would have ended with Maurice standing on the dock as Alec's ship slowly moved away, his farewell gift having been refused, or Maurice would have found Alec hanging at the end of a rope in the boathouse. Instead, it ends with Maurice and Alec in each other's arms. It's easy to forget just how significant this was at the time.

I would also like to address the subject of Maurice and Alec's future. The opinion that their affair would not last long is widely held, largely due to the huge difference in their social classes. I freely admit that they would face huge difficulties, but I don't think their situation was hopeless.

Alec was uneducated, but he was not unintelligent. He was also ambitious and hard working. He had to have been very much in love with Maurice to change his plans at the last minute and stay in England. Maurice has already suffered the loss of someone he thought was his soul mate, and was unlikely to let another great love get away easily.

So what did they do, and where did they go? My feeling is that their best chance at happiness would have been to emigrate to some location where nobody knew them, most likely the United States. Class differences certainly also existed in America, but they were not nearly as rigid as in Britain, and with a little education and "polish" Alec could easy have found a way to fit in.

Most likely they would have ended up in someplace like San Francisco, which even then was famous for its "Bohemians" and people who lived unconventional lifestyles.
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stratton_assoc27 January 2005
A few weeks ago here in sunny Los Angeles, it poured. An as usual my partner and I gave one of famous Sunday brunch's, which are normally held out by the pool with guest admiring the view. Such was not that Sunday. We hosted our brunch inside. We have an extensive DVD collection and one of the guest meandered into the library and pulled out " Maurice ". What a great movie, for most of us had seen it years ago. But for those who had not, they enjoyed as the rest of us did. The music score is excellent and the camera shoots of the English country side are exquisite. The story line is so romantic, you really don't want it to end. It also deals with the class structure of its day in gentle way. All actors are brilliant in there roles. Dare I say, the ending brought a few tears............... A great movie rain or sun, but the rain brought that certain English charm to our gang......

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Tasteful, beautifully filmed British-style work...
Neil Doyle8 May 2001
Before Hugh Grant became a mega-star he appeared in this Merchant Ivory adaptation of an E.M. Forster novel about two Cambridge students who fall in love--and out of love--each going separate ways at the end. Hugh Grant, James Wilby and Rupert Graves give well crafted performances that show respect for their roles. Graves, in particular, is especially well cast as the dark-haired gamekeeper and gives the film its only real sense of sexual urgency. James Wilby is a bit too repressed--even in the sexual moments--to bring the character fully to life. Somehow one feels that of the three, he is the least convincing--but overall he is a more than competent actor. Grant is excellent in an unusual role for him--his sly charm displayed in a less obvious way than when he does comedy.

If the film has one flaw, it's a bit overlong with the kind of story that could have been covered in two hours of running time. But everything about it is exquisite--the photography, the sets, the costumes, all in the impeccable style we're accustomed to from Merchant Ivory. A nice coming of age story of sexuality that cannot remain dormant when close "chums" are sharing close quarters.
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a gay love story that feels like comfort food.
cdshow17 March 2006
When I first came across this movie last year I was hesitant to view it because I thought it would be fluff due to Hugh Grant (yep, i've yet to see a James-Ivory production) but after seeing it, I was enchanted by the serene treatment which is so unlike Hollywood. And for the better. It tells the story of a young snobbish gentleman Maurice (James Wilby) who falls in love with a fellow Cambridge undergrad, Clive (Hugh Grant) who acknowledges Maurice's feelings, but not truly returning the affection or love. Maurice realized he is fully capable of a passionate love affair with his own sex that he hangs on to the calcified Clive. Even after Clive married, he accepts Clive's invitation to stay in Clive's estate in the desperate hope of a requited love. This predictably increased his sufferings when Clive showed up very little and even ignored Maurice's birthday. He tried to be like Clive by consulting a doctor and a hypnotist in order to 'cure' his homosexuality. As it turned out, Clive's game keeper Scudder (Rupert Graves) has been observing and been trying to cozy up to him. Maurice of course never noticed this because Scudder is his social inferior. In a most memorable scene (one reviewer here wrote it as a gay man's dream) Scudder climbed up to Maurice's room and entered through the window to realize Maurice's pent up yearnings. Due to class difference, Maurice tried to ignore Scudder subsequently but realized that Scudder's love is true when the latter intentionally missed his boat to Argentina where a job and a 'normal' life awaits him. And now its up to Maurice to accept a 'friend to last his life time' as he had long dreamed, even if he is of a lower class. This movie reminds me of a beautiful stream that flows its course slowly. The performance is great and although Graves appeared only in the last half of the film, his presence provides the sexual energy that was implied in the first half. The lovemaking scenes are unabashed but not self gratifying. The final scene of Maurice in his undergrad days at Cambridge beckoning to Clive is heart breaking. And the music feeds the mental image of the film after the credit ends. Definitely one of my favorite films that warrants repeated watching.
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Hard to be equaled
gossamer-626 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
It is touching to see all these wonderful reviews of Maurice (1987) people have felt in their hearts to share with us others. I am of the same persuasion. This Merchant/Ivory production is without compare. I taped it when it was broadcast here in otherwise dull Iceland. Of course I had seen it a number of times in the theater, but that did not stop me. I would watch this film every time I felt out of sorts and it always improved my mood. In fact I am hooked on it. If I understand correctly this film was a debut for Wilby, Grant and Rupert Graves. These characters grow on you and they seem to become lifetime friends. I am especially partial to the all too seldom a truly happy ending. So friends out there lets rejoice.

There is, however, a novel that has not caught the attention of the movie-makers. This is The Charioteer by the late Mary Renault. That book has given me even more comfort than Maurice has ever done. Why that is so can only be in the mind of the perspective reader. I fear that in our oh so sterile western societies where smoking and heavy drinking are frowned upon, to say the least that this particular book would not appeal to the general public, but from the kind words afforded by you on Maurice I wager that you would love to see The Charioteer in your favorite theater or in the privacy of your home. The Charioteer takes us back to World War II to a military hospital. To make a long story short the book portrays the love of a particular wounded soldier for two different young men and the soul-wrestling that tortures him, one of the beloved being a Quaker, the other someone he used to know and admire from school. The Oliver Stone film Alexander was mainly based on Ms.Renault trilogy, Fire From Heaven, The Persian Boy and Funeral Games. So without boring you further I suggest that if any person of consequence in the film business reads these words and takes a close look at this particular book, and think twice. The cast would of course have to be British but don't we all love the Brits anyway? Wouldn't Emma Thompson be the ideal producer? I'm all for it and Branagh the director?
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Hope in a film.
haganthomas-131 August 2006
The comments of author Rita Chang on the film Maurice sum it up truly quite nicely what I too believe this film is about. It is about the nature of the human animal God has or has not created and how "in, love." can have a reverse yet true meaning if one can accept it as the Bible can say or if one must accept it. This beautiful yet heartbreaking film actually made me cry the first time I saw it. I will not say exactly what I was thinking but it had to do with my father. Maurice is said to be from the writings of author E.M. Forster, autobiographical it is thought in some aspects, but requested only to be published after his death. It is uncommon in being an unconventional period love story where two men are the subject and later a third of some importance. It has text and subtext of what one must do, cannot, or tries to do to get, hold, maybe even destroy love. Frankly, if one can suspend disgust for the protagonists of the subject and their love it may even be instructional where traditional love is concerned which often sometimes is not nearly valued enough and taken for granted. Please be aware the conservative may be horrified while the less conservative may be bored and feel a threat of their own. Wonderful film which I think of as a true achievement for the Merchant-Ivory-Jhabavala triumvirate team. I also like as an accompaniment Room With A View. Separately wonderful. Together a more fully blown story with either ending possible.
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Profound, entertaining and charming.
Jason Shaw18 December 2012
 Quite simply one of the most exquisitely cinematic explorations of gay love that has ever created produced by Ismail Merchant, directed by James Ivory and adapted from the classic E. M. Forster novel, Maurice is a true masterpiece.

A quintessentially English example of love between men in the early 20th century at a time when homosexuality was still illegal and persecution was everywhere. This delightfully considered and delicately fragrances tale starts with a windswept walk along the beach for an eleven-year-old Maurice Hall and his bumbling although well-meaning school master Mr Ducie, played by a darling of the British theatre scene and all round nice guy, Simon Callow. Mr Ducie tries to explain the rudimentary "sacred mysteries" of sexual intercourse with the aid of sand drawings to the fatherless young man on the very periphery of puberty. Years later, in 1909, Maurice Hall is attending Cambridge, striking up friendships with aristocratic Lord Risley and the jolly lip smacking lovely Clive Durham. Durham, played by a devilishly handsome and not yet type cast Hugh Grant who seems to fall quite madly in love with the long tall blonde Maurice Hall, and who could really blame him. He surprises Maurice by fessing up to his emotions, which take young Maurice on the hop a bit. At first, he is muddled and confused by the declaration, yet soon comes to realise and accept he has similar feelings for his friend. Maurice is sent down, leaves under a cloud from the academic hot seat of Cambridge and yet, he maintains a strong friendship with Clive Durham. Maurice, with a little help, finds work embarking on an unrewarding career as a London stockbroker. A big fat spanner is thrown well and truly into the workings of a 'happy ever after' life when our two platonic lovers get frightened as university chum Lord Risley is not only arrested, but also sentenced to six months hard labour. His crime was supposedly soliciting sex from dashing army soldier, who may well have been up for it at the time!

Maurice is heartbroken he cant have Clive who is now set to marry, he seeks to rid himself of his gay feelings. Maurice and his aloof ways come to the attention of the supposedly uneducated under- gamekeeper working on Durham's country estate. How Maurice fails to notice the adorable Alec Scudder, played supremely by Rupert Graves is a mystery to all bar himself, yet the young handsome manly servant is not put off. One rainy evening a few nights later, Scudder risks everything and yet nothing by climbing a ladder and into Maurice's bedroom, they kiss and spend most of the night 'getting to know' each other.

Long-term joys are not on the horizon, in just a couple of days Alec Scudder is booked on a passage to a new life in the new world. Somehow, Scudder misses the boat, confusion reigns supreme for a good long while. Maurice muddled by everything confesses all to Clive Durham who understands little and off Maurice trots to the boathouse. Oh, the rapture and the wonder then he find dear young Scudder there, waiting for him. It's bewilderingly romantic and powerfully affecting, Scudder apparently sent a telegram to Maurice, though it was never received, informing him that he'd left his family and the chance of a new life overseas to stay with Maurice and telling him to come to the boathouse. They melt into each other's arms and the effervescent glow of love surrounds them in a bubble of happiness as Scudder whispers "Now we shan't never be parted."

Oh, how I wanted my own Scudder, or indeed to be someone else's Scudder when I first saw Maurice back in 1987 or 88, such was the magnificence and beauty of the story. The stunning production qualities, wonderful photography and cinematography in plump richness, exuberant colour with the finest of details all ensure this is one of the finest costume period drama ever made. Gay or otherwise! Forster wrote this mainly between 1913 and 1914, yet it was only published for the first time in 1971 a full year after his death. Forster himself was reticent about its publication mainly because of the legal and public attitudes towards homosexuality at the time. Indeed, a handwritten note on the original manuscript allegedly said "Publishable, but worth it?" He wanted it to have a happy ending, not the one made up in the film version, but perhaps one of the Scudder and Maurice years later as a pair of woodcutters, having lived a long and happy life together, although this epilogue of sorts was discarded by Forster himself.

Many academic types, including those at Kings College, believe Maurice to be a substandard Forster novel, compared with A Passage to India and Howards End. They very nearly did not give permission for the film to be made, or indeed shot on location at Kings. Thankfully, they relented, and the world could enjoy a cinematic masterpiece, filmed in part, where Forster himself would have walked during his days at Cambridge.

James Wilby and Hugh Grant excel as Maurice and Clive; indeed many still believe this to be Grant's career best performance. Rupert Graves is magnificent as the beautiful Alec Scudder. In addition, there is a potent supporting cast including Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, Billie Whitelaw and Ben Kingsley.

This movie had a profound impact on my early teenage years, not only igniting a love of literature but also in my acceptance of sexuality, profoundly moving, entertaining and liberating. There are parts now, even after all these years, still make me swoon and moisten my eyes.Read more and find out where this film made it in the Top 50 Most Influential Gay Movies of All Time book, search on Amazon for Top 50 Most Influential Gay Movies of All Time, or visit -
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mikrofon7226 January 2007
This movies beautifully illustrates the love between 2 men and their struggle against selfacceptness, hatress and lack of freedom in a society that doesn't allow them to live, and to be free beings and be as they are. In a society, that would rather see men fight and kill each other, than to see them embraceing. Its about the misery, fear and mistrust it causes for all when you are forced to live a life that isn't right for you.

Few movies understand how to bring the message and give a impression like its really happening. This one does. It succeeds in showing what love between 2 men can be.

The scenery of the movie is like taking a glimpse into the past around 1910 in England and makes you feel right there.
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olavito29 January 2004
it was extremely great to see a movie with 2 guys falling in love against the odds and have a HAPPY ending. the brits do it best! this is right up there with the more modern " a beautiful thing"
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Surely one of the best of all time
skyhouse517 December 2007
Having arrived, belatedly, by some 20 years, on this Ivory/Merchant classic, it strikes me as the perfect bookend for the 2004? "Brokeback Mountain." Both films are as close to "perfection" as humanly possible, and each is true and profound in its own right and style, nuance and subtexts, milieu and specifics. It will be difficult indeed for any future forays into the subject to come close to, much less equal, surpass?, not very likely, this pair of investigations of what some sociologists/psychologists in the past dubbed a "paraphilia." Yes, both films have elevated both subject and contemplation into the realm of unblinking observation, authentic perception, AND "art" as well. "Maurice" is a worthy addition to the Merchant/Ivory canon. Frank Eng
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