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On a rainy London night in 1946, novelist Maurice Bendrix has a chance meeting with Henry Miles, husband of his ex-mistress Sarah, who abruptly ended their affair two years before. Bendrix's obsession with Sarah is rekindled; he succumbs to his own jealousy and arranges to have her followed. Written by
This is an engrossing tale of love, passion and betrayal invloving three star-crossed lovers. Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) is a man haunted by jealousy and pain over an affair he had with the wife of one of his friends, Henry Miles (Stephen Rea). The affair has been over for two years when a chance encounter with Miles takes Bendrix to his house where he once again encounters Sarah (Julianne Moore). The obsession for her returns when Henry tells him that he suspects that Sarah is having an affair. At hearing this Maurice gets jealous, thinking that he has been replaced as her paramour. What follows is a complex and tangled web of suspicion, jealousy and dolor.
This is a wonderfully complicated story that opens slowly like a flower. It is a first person narrative delivered by Bendrix and it gets more intriguing as the film progresses. The use of flashbacks is subtlety effective, where the realizations about misinterpretations come not from the dialogue, but from seeing the same scene from two perspectives. The love scenes are sensuously done and the general tone of the film is poignant and sensitive.
The film was nicely photographed with various filters to give it an old feel without losing the richness. Director Neil Jordan did a fine job of giving the film a genuine look of the period with proper English costumes from the 1940's.
Ralph Fiennes was excellent as the jealous lover. He played the character as civilized and staid with molten lava just beneath the surface. He was masterful at conveying strong emotion with a sideways glance or hand gesture without losing his composure.
Julianne Moore has added another fabulous dramatic performance to her resume as Sarah. She played the part with fatalistic passion, victimized by vortex of events she felt powerless to control.
Stephen Rea also shined as the impassive cuckold. Rea tends to be very understated in his portrayals, often too much so. But he was the perfect choice for the hapless Miles; so intellectual, withdrawn and defenseless. His phlegmatic response upon being confronted by Bendrix about their affair, showed a resigned helplessness that was both pathetic and believable.
I enjoyed this film immensely and gave it a 9/10. It is finespun yet powerful. It takes its time unfolding, so if you like pace this film might test your patience. But if you enjoy a good old fashioned steamy love triangle, this film will do nicely.
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