The End Of The Affair (1999)
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted May 20, 2000
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The Movie:

As simple a statement as it sounds, the ads for "The End Of The Affair" sort of made it seem like an "English Patient" sequel("English Patient: With A Vengence?"), but "End" turns out to be a different picture with a different tone, but still, not one that I enjoyed very much. The film's ad line reads: "the end is just the begining", which I feel is a good way to describe the picture - it simply feels as if it goes on forever.

The picture begins around the life of Sarah and Henry Miles(Julianne Moore and Stephen Rea). Obviously, we can tell that the marriage between the two has drifted apart in recent times; they're living together, but that seems to be their only bond. Enter Maurice(Ralph Fiennes), a writer and friend of the family who begins to fall in love with Sarah; during World War 2 in England, the two have a intense affair that lasts for a short time.

The two meet again years later, and the interest begins anew. It's unfortunate that the interest in the film never really sparks. I'm not sure exactly whose decision it was to venture down this road, but the performers speak with little or no energy. This approach does wonders for making the film move at almost a frozen pace. I certainly see the point in muting emotions in a drama like this one, but director Neil Jordan has taken things too far, which is particularly dissapointing in a film that stars such talented actors as Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes.

The film spends all of 101 minutes looking at the affair from both points of view, but without much interest in these characters, 101 minutes is even too long for this story. Moore's performance is, as expected, quite good, but the emotions that could be released are subdued, leading to a lack of feeling of importance for many scenes; there's just no intensity in either the film or the look of the production.

"The End Of The Affair" does boast a cast of fine actors, but there's just not enough to the characters or story to make a very interesting or enjoyable picture. The only positive aspect in my opinion was Michael Nyman's score, which includes more emotion than the entire film.


VIDEO: The general quality is fine, but some of the scenes are affected by what looks to be the intent of the director. The picture generally has a very smooth, clean look, but there are a number of scenes that look to have been shot in a soft focus that occasionally goes the slightest bit overboard. The colors, like the emotions of the characters, are subdued, but generally don't display any problems. Black level is fine, and flesh tones are accurate as well.

Aside from the softness, there are few other problems. There is no shimmering or pixelation, and aside from once or twice, there are no marks or scratches on the print. Nothing very distracting or problematic with the image quality, but nothing remarkable or outstanding from it, either.

SOUND: Except for a couple of scenes, "The End Of The Affair" is mainly dialogue-driven, which is to be expected from a dramatic tale like this one. At one point, about midway through the picture, there are a couple of explosions that provide a very strong impact. Besides that, Michael Nyman's score fills the listening space wonderfully, and provides a very enjoyable experience. Dialogue is clear and easily understood throughout. Nothing groundbreaking, but does the job well.

MENUS:: The simple, beautiful menus are not-animated, but serve the general tone of the film well.


Commentary One: This is a commentary by actress Julianne Moore. I think Moore is certainly one of the best actresses in movies today, and so I sat down very excited to hear what she had to say, even if I didn't really care for the movie itself that much. The final result of her commentary is moderately enjoyable, but is slow going at points. Moore alternates between telling stories about the set and pointing out what's going on on-screen; when she's talking about what happened during filming is when the discussion is most successful - otherwise, the track is silent or she falls back to talking about the on-screen events.

A lot of the discussion also deals with the other actors; it's unfortunate that Moore doesn't really go into that much detail on what it was like to work with them other than how good they are and what a pleasure it was to work with many of them. She gives out comments that I would like to have heard more about; at one point she talks about director Jordan's style and how many takes they would have to do for a scene, but her discussion on it stops rather abruptly.

It's not really a structured commentary in the nature that we're used to, but simply a chance to sit and watch the movie with a talented actress who shares some of her feelings about it. Again, it's a little slow at times, but it's very nice to have the chance to hear from an actress like Moore.

Commentary Two: This is a commentary from director Neil Jordan, and although I didn't find it an extremely interesting affair to listen to, it does provide a wider scope of information about the making of the movie. This is mainly a commentary dealing with the elements of the story that had to go into the making of the movie; how the story was shaped and the differences between the novel. Jordan seems to also have a strong appreciation for the book; he talks frequently about the style of the language used in the book as well as how the characters were built.

The other elements of the discussion include talk about the actors, as well as how casting choices were made to fit each role, as well as how Jordan went about creating a period like the one depicted in this film. I would have liked for the commentary to be a bit more modest; he seems to take his opinion of the film's strong suits a little too strongly at times, but this is a minor complaint. It's not a terribly energetic commentary, but if you're looking for more information about how the film was made, it's does offer some insight.

Trailers: Trailers for "The End Of The Affair" and "Remains Of The Day"

Making-Of Featurette: A fairly short "making-of" documentary that offers interviews with the cast and crew, who share information about the story as well as their roles.

Also: Talent files and, wonderfully, Michael Nyman's isolated score.

Final Thoughts: Although Tristar has certainly provided a great package for "The End Of The Affair", I didn't find the story that entertaining or interesting, and although the DVD is a solid effort, the commentaries are not very memorable. Audio/video quality is fine, but not remarkable.

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