Maurice

Rated R 140 minutes 1987

Hot on the heels of A Room With a View, director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant adapted another E.M. Forster novel, posthumously published in 1914 (the quasi-autobiographical subject, a male homosexual in prewar upper-class England, prevented Forster from publishing it while he was alive). At Cambridge, Maurice Hall (James Wilby) develops a discreet, romantic, semiplatonic relationship with the aristocratic Clive Durham (Hugh Grant), which continues after Maurice is expelled and goes to live at the Durham estate. But after a former classmate is imprisoned for making homosexual advances (an addition to Forster), Clive takes a trip alone to Greece, renounces his relationship with Maurice, and winds up in a conventional marriage. Lonely and frustrated, Maurice seeks help in hypnosis, then begins an affair with Clive's lusty gamekeeper, Alec Scudder (Rupert Graves). A kind of low-key, homoerotic Splendor in the Grass, this 1987 film weighs in at 140 minutes, and despite many fine actors in smaller parts—e.g., Billie Whitelaw, Ben Kingsley, and Denholm Elliott—the dissection of Edwardian repression never gets beyond the dutiful, tasteful obviousness of a BBC miniseries. With a script by Ivory and Kit Hesketh-Harvey, and postcard photography by Pierre Lhomme.

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