A BEACH FROLIC, A PARK RIDE, A CLIMACTIC NIGHT. Brighton is where lovers Sarah Miles and Maurice Bendrix escape to before the end of their affair. Adapted from Graham Greene's 1951 novel of the same name, The End of the Affair follows the tormenting entanglement between a passionate writer and a discontented wife in wartime London.
Caught in the Blitz, "Bendrix" and Sarah's relationship is as tumultuous as their times. They are not only neighbors to begin with. Sarah's husband Henry Miles, a civil servant, was to be the subject of Bendrix's research. Intending to learn about his habits, "what he drinks at bedtime and when", Bendrix ends up discovering more than what he initially came for.
The affair carries on with strain and squabbles spurred by Bendrix's jealousy. Having been written by Greene however, it transcends romance, subtly dipping into faith and disbelief. While Greene considered himself an agnostic, even an atheist, Catholic religious themes ground much of his writing, particularly in his four major Catholic novels: Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair. They are regarded as the "gold standard" of the genre.
The film takes place mostly in London, depicted with heavy rains and World War II bombing raids. Brighton provides the setting for contrast; sea air and sunshine for momentary joy and calm. Once back in London, their stories carry on.
Wish I could say the same for myself as we approach a full season of living in Brighton. With its seaside pace and summertime attractions, living here still only feels temporary. It's as if elsewhere, my story longs to carry on. But as I'm not involved in any sort of revelatory, soul-shattering tryst, only time will determine the end of this Brighton affair. For now, London is a train ride away.
Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes in The End of the Affair, 1999. Directed by Neil Jordan.