"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
From the acclaimed director of The Crying Game and Interview with the Vampire comes a romantic story of desire and betrayal. The setting is war-torn England, 1939. Sarah Miles (Julianne Moore) is married to Henry (Stephen Rea), a man she loves but with whom she shares no intimacy. When she meets Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes), the two have an immediate attraction for each other and embark on a torrid affair. Their passion is as earth-shattering as the bombs that explode around them, until the day Sarah mysteriously and abruptly walks out of Maurice's life. Two years later, Maurice runs into Henry, who confides his suspicions of Sarah's infidelity. Fueled by his own jealousy and desperate to solve the mystery surrounding the end of their own romance, Maurice agrees to help. His investigation not only re-ignites his love for Sarah but also leads him to discover a devastating secret whichwill change their lives forever.