'REMAKE REWIND - End of the Affair Double Feature'
(Van Johnson, Deborah Kerr, Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore, et al / DVD / NR+R / 2015 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: In wartorn London Maurice Bendrix falls in love with neighbor Sarah Miles. They begin an illicit romance behind Sarah's husband's back. While war does not last forever, neither does love in this existentialist tale. Check out the black and white classic from 1955 or the remake from 1999 and you can decide for yourselves which version is better.
DVD Verdict: In truth, this is an astonishing artifact from 1955. Astonishing because it is so grown up and sophisticated in its outlook, and because it grapples with moral complexities and ambiguities that English language films of this period never went near. An adulterous affair begun with a certain amount of cynicism on both sides grows into a true and passionate love affair, which in turn raises issues of guilt, trust, duty, self-denial and religious belief. As a story, it holds our interest and causes us to wonder where it will end. As a parable and philosophical meditation on belief and its role in love and contemporary life, it is both stimulating and unexpectedly moving. This 1955 version of 'The End of the Affair' deserves to be much better known and remembered, and all concerned deserve belated kudos for attempting such a provocative film in the midst of Hollywood's synthetic movies of the period.
In the 1999 remake, it is once again an engrossing tale of love, passion and betrayal involving 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. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.