The End of the Affair (1955, DVD)

American writer (Van Johnson) meets a prominent British politician’s (Peter Cushing) wife (Deborah Kerr) during WWII. They are fascinated with each other in a case of love at first sight and begin an affair which one day stops abruptly when the mysterious woman leaves him for unknown reasons. The writer seeks to understand her motivation, but she remains elusive to the end of the movie, although family, marriage, and religious histories are gradually revealed.
Though this film (based on a Graham Greene novel) is superficially a wartime romance, it is more an odd character study of the woman who becomes the ‘source material’ and quest of the author. Ironically, she turns out to be a ‘writer’ herself and the director (Edward Dymtryk), as did Greene, plays with viewer/reader expectations and assumptions.
The two principal, talented actors are convincing, especially in their confusions. Cushing is also¬†well-cast as the wishy-washy politician who loves, but fails in practice. John Mill has a strange guest turn as a private eye’s agent.
Dymytyk’s direction holds the viewer in suspense until the ambiguous ending. There are no easy answers in Greene’s work and in The End of the Affair, much as there¬†aren’t in real life. People, their motivations, choices, and confusions often elude complete or satisfactory understandings and resolutions, resisting whatever analysis.
This movie is a curiosity and one of the most curious works originating from Greene’s prolific, engaging pen.

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