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With: Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore, Stephen Rea, Ian Hart, Sam Bould, Jason Isaacs
Written by: Neil Jordan, based on a novel by Graham Greene
Directed by: Neil Jordan
MPAA Rating: R for scenes of strong sexuality
Running Time: 102
Date: 12/02/1999

The End of the Affair (1999)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Greene's Day

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Graham Greene's novels have always been good source material for movies. Greene's words have been used as the basis for, among others, Frank Tuttle's This Gun for Hire (1942), Fritz Lang's Ministry of Fear (1944), John Ford's The Fugitive (1947), and famously, Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949). His semi-autobiographical novel, The End of the Affair has been filmed before -- in 1955 by Edward Dmytryk with Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson. That version, which I haven't seen, is said to be dry and dull.

But I can't be sure the source material isn't the thing that's dry and dull. Greene, who started his career as a journalist and a movie critic, has always been a little stiffly British in his writing, even though he deals with lurid subject matter like dark corners, lost souls, and illicit affairs. Fortunately, talented writer/director Neil Jordan takes the right approach to the material. Instead of trying to spruce it up, he simply moves in closer.

The End of the Affair tells of a writer's (Ralph Fiennes) affair with a married woman (Julianne Moore). Jordan's favorite actor Stephen Rea anchors the whole production as Moore's faithful but lifeless husband. The movie is presented in lots of darkness and rain, shadowy close-ups, secret meetings, and whispers, in a sort of figure-eight format. We follow one character up to a major event, then we loop around and follow another character to the same event, so that it all makes sense.

Although The End of the Affair should appeal to folks who appreciate period dramas and to those who have a nostalgic flair, the movie doesn't pack the whollop that Jordan's earlier The Crying Game (1992) or The Butcher Boy (1998) do. It's a good solid movie, though, and I find myself looking back on it with affection.

(This review originally appeared on

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