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The End of the Affair

The End of the Affair(1955)

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In World War II London, Maurice Bendrix receives an honorable discharge from the military and resumes his writing career. While researching a project on civil servants, Maurice is invited to a party at the home of bureaucrat Henry Miles and his wife Sarah, to whom Maurice is immediately attracted. When Henry recommends that Maurice interview Sarah for his project as she knows him best, Maurice agrees. Maurice meets Sarah a few days later and the two soon begin a clandestine romance. Over the next several months Maurice and Sarah fall deeply in love, meeting often at a small country inn. Maurice frets continually and despite Sarah's reassurances, is deeply suspicious and jealous of her life without him. In London, Sarah meets Miles at his apartment, despite the constant threats of air raids. During one rendezvous, the couple is unnerved by the new German "buzz bombs," which cause great damage. During an attack, Maurice suggests they go below to the shelter, but Sarah worries about his landlady seeing them together. Maurice goes downstairs to see if the shelter is empty, but as he arrives on the first floor, a bomb detonates near the house and he is caught in the explosion and buried beneath the shattered front door. Regaining consciousness moments later, Maurice stumbles upstairs and to his surprise finds Sarah kneeling by the bed. She is shocked to see him and, in answer to Maurice's query, admits that she was praying, as she had found him after the blast and believed him dead. Sarah tends to Maurice's injuries for some moments before abruptly departing. Over the next several days, Maurice recovers from the explosion but is unable to reach Sarah. Soon Maurice grows bitter, believing Sarah has used the bombing incident to break off with him. Depressed, Maurice leaves London and does not return for a year, after the war has ended. One evening shortly after his return, Maurice is walking home in the rain when he meets Henry. Agitated and nervous, Henry invites Maurice home, and after learning that Sarah is out, Maurice agrees. Over drinks, Henry confesses his concern about Sarah's strange withdrawal and long absences and has gone so far as to consider hiring a detective. When Henry admits that he is disgusted by the thought of taking this action, Maurice volunteers to do so for him, but Henry refuses. The next day Maurice visits the Savage detective agency and hires them to track Sarah's movements. Later, Maurice tries to contact Sarah and then walks to her house, intercepting her arrival. When Maurice demands an explanation for their breakup, Sarah offers none. The next day, Maurice meets the Savage agency representative, Albert Parkis, and is abashed to learn that his report details Maurice's own meeting with Sarah. A few days later, however, Parkis summons Maurice to witness Sarah's arrival at the address of Richard Smythe, whom she has visited several times. Later, Parkis reveals that he has befriended the Miles's maid and offers him a portion of a letter written by Sarah, which includes Sarah's declaration of lifetime commitment. Maurice contacts Henry and demands a meeting at his club, where he discusses the investigation, Sarah's mysterious meetings with Smythe and the letter. Henry is dismayed and angry at Maurice and refuses to believe the report. That evening, Parkis presents Maurice with Sarah's diary and adds that Sarah has been in poor health. Maurice brings the investigation to a close and begins reading the diary: During their affair, Sarah worries constantly that despite her love for him, Maurice's needless suspicions will ruin their relationship. During the night of the buzz bomb attack, Sarah finds Maurice buried beneath debris and believes him dead. Returning upstairs in shock, Sarah is driven to desperate prayer, vowing to give up Maurice if he is allowed to live. At Maurice's appearance, Sarah realizes she must take her promise seriously and on her way home stops at a nearby church and confesses to Father Crompton. Plagued by her pledge, Sarah soon begins seeing public orator Smythe, who declares that God cannot exist and allow the destruction of the war to continue. Conflicted, Sarah also continues to see Father Crompton. The day that Parkis and Maurice follow Sarah to Smythe's, she bids Smythe farewell, explaining that his hatred against God has only helped her realize His existence, but also that she is causing Henry great unhappiness. Returning home, Sarah writes a love letter to Maurice, apologizing and vowing to return to him, but then tears the letter up and throws it away. Henry arrives home shaken and pleads with Sarah not to leave him and she reluctantly agrees. After finishing the diary, Maurice calls Sarah, who refuses to see him. When he insists, Sarah flees the house into a rainstorm, but Maurice follows her and makes her promise to return to him. Weakly proclaiming that she does not have the strength to continue battling all the forces pulling at her, Sarah agrees. The next day, Maurice finds Sarah gravely ill, and her mother and a physician in attendance with Henry. Everyone is stunned when Sarah abruptly dies, and Maurice returns home shattered. He finds a letter from Sarah declaring that she cannot go away with him and will never see him again, and that she believes in her promise to God despite and because of her love for him. Maurice weeps and tells Sarah that in time he may understand.