ⓘ The End of the Affair (1999 film)

The End of the Affair (1999 film)

ⓘ The End of the Affair (1999 film)

The End of the Affair is a 1999 drama film directed by Neil Jordan and starring Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore and Stephen Rea.

The film is based on The End of the Affair, a 1951 novel by British author Graham Greene, which had been adapted as a film in 1955 with Deborah Kerr.


1. Plot

Novelist Maurice Bendrix narrates the film as he begins a book with the line "This is a diary of hate".

On a rainy London night in 1946, Bendrix has a chance meeting with Henry Miles, husband of his former mistress Sarah, who abruptly ended their affair two years before. Bendrixs obsession with Sarah is rekindled: he succumbs to his own jealousy and works his way back into her life.

As the story unfolds in 1946, we also see flashbacks of Bendrix with Sarah as they began their affair during World War II. Henry tells Bendrix that he believes Sarah is having an affair, so Bendrix hires the bumbling but amiable Mr. Parkis, who uses his young birthmarked son Lance to investigate. Sarah asks Bendrix to meet to talk about Henry and the cold tentativeness of their interaction is contrasted with the passion of their earlier encounters.

Bendrix learns from Parkis that Sarah has been making regular visits to a priest named Father Richard Smythe under the guise of false dentist visits and he grows increasingly jealous. Flashbacks show Bendrix expressing jealousy of Henry and asking Sarah to leave him.

Though Sarah and Bendrix express love to each other, the affair ends abruptly when a V-1 flying bomb explodes near Bendrixs building as he is out in the hallway. Bendrix falls down a staircase and awakes later, bloodied but not seriously hurt. He walks upstairs, where Sarah is shocked that he is alive. Bendrix accuses Sarah of being disappointed that he survived and she leaves, telling him "Love doesnt end, just because we dont see each other".

In 1946, Parkis obtains Sarahs diary and passes it on to Bendrix; it shows the affair from her perspective. After Bendrix is hurt by the bomb, Sarah runs downstairs and finds him still and not breathing. After trying to revive him, she runs back upstairs and begins to pray for Bendrixs life. Just as she says to God that she will stop seeing Bendrix if he is brought back, Bendrix comes into the room.

Now knowing why Sarah ended the affair, Bendrix follows Sarah and begs her to reconsider. Sarah tells Bendrix that she has felt dead without him and can no longer keep her "promise" to God. Henry, who has figured out that it is Bendrix who was Sarahs lover, desperately asks Sarah not to leave him but, with more persuasion from Bendrix, Sarah agrees to go away with him for a weekend. Henry tracks the couple down to tell them that Sarah has a terminal illness.

Bendrix stays with Henry and Sarah over her final days and at her funeral, Parkis tells Bendrix that a chance encounter with Sarah cured his son of his birthmark. At Henry and Sarahs house, Bendrix completes his book and it is revealed that his diary of hate is directed toward God. While Sarah doesnt need to see God to love Him, Bendrix prays God will leave him alone, thereby finally acknowledging His existence.


2. Cast

  • Penny Morrell as Bendrixs Landlady
  • Heather-Jay Jones as Henrys Maid
  • Ian Hart as Mr. Parkis
  • Jack McKenzie as Chief Engineer
  • Jason Isaacs as Father Richard Smythe
  • Simon Fisher Turner as Doctor Gilbert
  • Nic Main as Commanding Officer
  • Deborah Findlay as Miss Smythe
  • Stephen Rea as Henry Miles
  • James Bolam as Mr. Savage
  • Sam Bould as Lance Parkis
  • Julianne Moore as Sarah Miles
  • Ralph Fiennes as Maurice Bendrix
  • Cyril Shaps as Waiter
  • Nicholas Hewetson as Chief Warden

3.1. Reception Accolades

Julianne Moore was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and Roger Pratt was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. The film also got several nominations at the BAFTA awards, including Best Cinematography Roger Pratt, Best Costume Design Sandy Powell, Best Film Stephen Woolley, Neil Jordan, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Ralph Fiennes and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Julianne Moore. Neil Jordan won a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay. Neil Jordan was nominated for the Best Director Motion Picture Golden Globe and Julianne Moore was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Ralph Fiennes also won the best eyewear award at the GQ Men of 2000 Awards for the pair of National Health Service spectacles he sported in the film.

The film is recognised by American Film Institute in these lists:

  • 2002: AFIs 100 Years.100 Passions – Nominated


4. Soundtrack

Michael Nyman later used "Diary of Love" to open and close his solo album, The Piano Sings 2006. As with many of Nymans 1990s scores, he incorporates material from his String Quartet No.3, which was in turn based on a choral piece titled Out of the Ruins.

Track listing

  • Henry 1:46
  • The Party in Question 3:45
  • The First Time 2:16
  • I Know your voice, Sarah 4:10
  • Love Doesnt End 4:31
  • Sarah dies 3:01
  • Vigo Passage 1:04
  • Diary of Hate 2:38
  • Intimacy 3:04
  • Dispossessed 3:22
  • Smythe with a "Y" 1:55
  • Breaking the Spell 1:20
  • The End of the Affair 2:59
  • Diary of Love 5:16
  • Jealous of the Rain 5:29

A contemporary recording of "Haunted Heart" by Jo Stafford is heard in the background during several scenes and the closing credits.

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