Maurice Bendrix (Fiennes) is a well regarded English novelist - Graham Greene's unflattering self-portrait - whose passionate love affair with the married Sarah (Moore) leads him into a fatal duel, not with her husband, the quiescent civil servant Henry Miles (Rea), but with God Himself. If ever an actor was born to play Greene, it was surely Fiennes. So English, so civilised, and so terribly anguished. Writer/director Jordan, too, makes a good match: another glumly romantic Catholic, another fatalistic Cavalier. The film retraces the novel's looped time structure, starting in 1946, two years after the end of the affair, when Maurice takes it upon himself to have Sarah followed, on his friend Henry's behalf, of course. As his investigation proceeds (through the services of Hart's Cockney dick, Parkis), and meeting Sarah again, Maurice becomes consumed with jealousy, obsessed with the idea of uncovering evidence of his ex-lover's duplicity - instead, he finds a saint. Watered down from the novel, the metaphysics are still perilously heady stuff, but it's as a poison pen love letter that the movie compels: a torrid confession of sexual passion, delving into those tweeds and suspenders, and the rancorous diatribe of a jilted man. The performances, too, are all pitch perfect.
Cast and crew
Heather Jay Jones