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Maurice Movie Review

james ivory film loneliness

Maurice continues Berkeley-born director James Ivory's exploration of the English upper crust's high-class worries. Based on E.M. Forster's novel, the 139-minute film would not be hurt if it were half an hour shorter. It should come as no shock that there is a class structure in England and that schoolboys run off at the mouth, but it is tedious to watch long sequences convincing us of these kindergarten truths. The film works best when it shows the loneliness of the closet homosexual at the turn of the century. In a world which celebrates heterosexuality, the loneliness can only be relieved by an expression of sexuality, but even for the privileged in Great Britain, the consequences once included imprisonment. We see how two young men face their sexuality, one burying it in convention, the other acquiring strength by accepting himself as he is. It takes enormous reserves of courage to see through fear and disarm it. Very few can risk the social disapproval such an effort requires, which lends a rosy cast to the idealistic conclusion. The usual Ivory production values prevail, including gorgeous sets and costumes. Maurice is blessed with a top-notch cast, including then-ubiquitous Denholm Elliott and Ben Kingsley as an oddly accented American hypnotist who has the film's best line, “England has always been disinclined to accept human nature.”

1987 (R) 139m/C GB James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, Mark Tandy, Ben Kingsley, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, Judy Parfitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Billie Whitelaw, Phoebe Nicholls, Barry Foster; D: James Ivory; W: James Ivory, Kit Hesketh-Harvey; C: Pierre Lhomme; M: Richard Robbins. Nominations: Academy Awards ‘87: Best Costume Design. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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