The End of the Affair
House Church Central Goes to the Movies

Columbia Pictures. Produced by Stephen Woolley and Neil Jordan. Novel by Graham Green, screenplay by Neil Jordan. Directed by Neil Jordan.

The beginning words of this film, pounded into a typewriter by an angry Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes), are "This is a diary of hate." Who is the hater? The hatee? The answer does not come until the last few minutes of the film.

The action takes place during and after World War II in England, among an unconventional triangle made up of Maurice, Henry Miles (Stephen Rea), and his wife Sarah (Julianne Moore). While there are episodes in which I saw just a bit more of Ms. Moore than I really wanted to see, these were worth bearing because of impressive spiritual payoff that the film delivers in its last scene. Somehow the story turns from that of an adulterous wartime affair into a case study of prayer, miracles, and God breaking through difficult people and difficult situations.

One interesting device employed by the film maker is the replaying of pivotal scenes from the perspective of different characters. In each case, the first playing conceals important information that is revealed later in the replay. The first hint that God may be involved in this otherwise sordid plot comes with the appearance of a Catholic priest, played by Jason Issacs, in just such a sequence.

Devotees of the 1984 film Amadeus and the Peter Schaffer stage play upon which it was based will find many parallels here. Perhaps the two movies ought to be viewed on successive evenings and discussed together. The periods, constructions, and content of the two screenplays are very different, but theological threads are similar.

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