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Maurice 1987

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At Cambridge, Clive Durham [Grant] is immediately attracted to a fellow student, Maurice Hall [James Wilby]. The love between them is platonic but intense and, in a society that both persecutes and prosecutes homosexuals, guilt and fear lead to Clive's breakdown and a bitter rift between the two friends. Both men try to suppress their homoerotic instincts - Clive through marriage, Maurice through medicine and psychiatry. But Maurice alone finds the honesty and strength to face up to his true nature when a man from a completely different social world enters his life, the darkly handsome young gamekeeper, Alec Scudder [Rupert Graves]...

Starring:
Patrick Godfrey, Barry Foster
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product details

Discs
  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 2 hours 14 minutes
Starring Patrick Godfrey, Barry Foster, Rupert Graves, Hugh Grant, Billie Whitelaw, Helena Bonham-Carter, Judy Parfitt, James Wilby, Ben Kingsley, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, Phoebe Nicholls
Director James Ivory
Genres Drama
Studio CHANNEL 4
Rental release 4 October 1999
Main languages English

Other formats

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Sadly, there are many occasions on which well-meaning film-makers have quite frankly butchered good books, where their metamorphosis onto the big screen has not gone smoothly. I must say, however, that James Ivorys' adaptation of E.M Forsters' classic novel, Maurice, is a welcome exception.
Ivory captures the essence of this book superbly, in terms of character, dialogue and fundamentals such as plot, which is largely in keeping with the original story-line. Where it differs, it does so effectively and plausibly, and this does not detract from the sense of its over-all loyalty to the novel.
Splendid acting is in evidence throughout from James Wilby and Hugh Grant, as well as Rupert
Graves and a good supporting cast. Wilby portrays the conflicted eponymous hero impressively, moving smoothly through a range of emotions, from moments of exuberance, uncertainty and tourtured insecurity.
Although the crucial theme of Maurice is homosexuality in an age which criminalized it, other issues such as social class, individuality/conformity and love mean that it is compelling on other levels too, making it an all-round joy of pre-World War One drama, in which innocence and idealism are still largely possible.
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Format: VHS Tape
I feel a bit cheesy for using that title, but I can't think of anything better. This is a love-story. Understandably, because of the gay content, it is also very political, but if you can step aside from all that you will enjoy it's true heart so much better. This is what I am sure E M Forster intended. He wasn't into making big political statements, if he was he would have have done as his friends urged him to, and had the novel published when homosexuality was legalised in 1967. (Instead it wasn't published in his lifetime. Although he wrote it way back in 1913 he didn't want to shock his mother). But there is no doubt to my mind that Forster was an incurable romantic, "A Room With A View" should prove that, and if "Maurice" was about a star-crossed man-woman relationship as that one was, we wouldn't be in any doubt that we were in Romance with a big R territory.
Maurice (played absolutely superbly by James Wilby) is a young upper-class Edwardian, constantly fighting his own inner demons about his sexuality. Whilst at Cambridge he forms an intense attachment to a fellow student, Clive, (Hugh Grant, again brilliantly acted). When a mutual friend is imprisoned with hard labour for soliciting a soldier outside a pub, Clive gets the jitters and backs off, retreating into starchy middle-class married respectability. Maurice meanwhile goes the rounds of doctors and psychiatrists, trying to find out if he can be "cured". During a weekend visit to Clive's country house he meets Alec Scudder, Clive's rather rough-and-ready gamekeeper. I know what you're thinking, gay version of "Lady Chatterley's Lover"! But I think, with all respect to D H Lawrence, this is better.
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Format: DVD
One of the other reviewers of this film mentioned that this was important to them when they were struugling with issues relating to their own sexuality. I too have a belief that most lesbian and gay people have either a film or a book that is important to them in their formative 'coming out' stages - Maurice was mine. I sneaked into a late night showing in central London with the woman who was, and still is my best friend: and at that time there was no way it was going to be screened in working class South London where we were from.

Essentially the film covers the gradual 'awakening' of Maurice (played by James Wilby) to his true - gay - self starting in his late teenage years and ending sometime one supposes in his mid-twenties. Maurice is from an upper-middle class family and is exposed to all the privileges that go with being from that background. At university he meets Clive (Hugh Grant), an intense, intelligent and handsome young man from the landed gentry. After a few clumsy blunders and misunderstandings the two embark upon a secret relationship (well it has to be). Clive though is unwilling to partake in a sexual aspect to the relationship - thinking that it would 'bring them down'.

After several years of a close, but sexually unfulfilling relationship a mutual aquaintance of Maurice and Clive is caught soliciting a soldier outside a pub. At the subsequent trial he is essentially stripped of the reputation, career and status he enjoyed as a member of the upper class. This is a turning point in the relationship between Maurice and Clive, and Clive calls an end to the relationship in a particularly emotional sequence. Maurice gets on with life, existing from a day to day level, but emotionally his life is barren.
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Format: DVD
Every time I watch Maurice I fall in love with it afresh, it is so full of feeling, and the ending goes against everything one might expect. I watched several Merchant Ivory films but this is the one that stands out for me. The fact that it broaches a taboo subject for the time it is set in gives it just the edge the beautifully detailed, well-upholstered style needs to take flight, standing as it does in some conflict with it. We enjoy the material world it shows, and the style of the section shot in Cambridge, for instance, but also realise it isn't going to make Maurice happy. The success of the film hangs on its three male leads, really, with James Wilby giving a particularly stunning performance as the hero, heroic for his honesty and sincerity of feeling. You so want him to break away from the stifling influences of those around him, and the appearance of Scudder has real magic. The scene where he introduces him to his old teacher in the museum has something totally fantastic, a mystery that makes it a great scene in British cinema for me. The same holds true for the scene when Scudder breaks into his bedroom - it was one of those moments of my youthful cinema-going that I shall never forget! I love the way it suggests that love knows no bounds, and the final moments of the film are amazing, of course not without their ambiguity, but leaving you walking on air nonetheless!
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