ASPECTS OF LOVE Neil Jordan
He's tackled the IRA and gangsters, werewolves, vampires and ghosts, trans- vestites and psychotic boys. Now, with The End Of The Affair, ‘ is taking on romance during the Blitz.
Words: Tom Dawson
14 THE lIST 3-17 Feb 2000
IT'S STRANGE THAT, OVER THE COURSE OF A DOZEN films. the closest writer-director Neil Jordan has come to true romance is the unlikely pairing of a transvestite and an IRA gunman. Now he‘s tackling the subject of love from a completely different angle. in an austere and powerful adaptation of Graham Greene's The End Of The A/j'ait: It might be slightly unfamiliar territory for the man who turned Tom Cruise into a vampire and Sinead O’Conner into the Virgin Mary. but this latest film is being widely tipped for Oscar success.
As a teenager Jordan had read The End Of The Affair. but it wasn‘t until he re-read the book in the mid-1990s that he realized its cinematic potential. ‘lt impressed me in a different way.‘ he explains. ‘I found it forcefully erotic and there was a wonderful story in this subjective account of a love affair. The thing that fascinated me was that it was seen from two different points of view. And the story bounces between time frames. which is ideal
for a film. I actually thought about setting it in a different period. but I realised it depended on the context of the Blitz and the War and the Englishness of everything. So I wrote a script that
was very faithful to the novel.‘
It was during the process of writing the screenplay that Jordan realised the deficiencies of earlier Greene adaptations. not least the 1954 film
version of The [ind ()f The Affair. ‘Watching that. you realised how pedestrian and sexless the run-of— the-mill films were from that era.‘ says Jordan. ‘Greene‘s serious novels are very internal. They‘re not about plot as much as about moral dilemmas. The trick for the filmmaker is not to get crushed by the internal nature of the books. With this version. I wanted to make it a portrait of a novelist who is
trying to piece together a story out experience. and who gets it wrong. Every”: movie — Bendrix. Sara. Henry and Parkiiié;
trying to work out what the truth is.’ -_.
Jordan has assembled an outstanding cast forA his project. lead by Ralph Fiennes. Julianne Moore and Stephen Rea. Yet he admits that there were reservations about choosing Fiennes. ‘Although he was ideal to play a Greene anti-hero. the problem was that he‘d been in a very successful film with a woman who‘d died — The English Patient. In the end we decided that the movies would be so different that it wouldn‘t matter.‘ Meanwhile. Moore. who had written to Jordan after reading his screenplay. impressed the director in an audition with the ‘simplicity of her acting‘. Rea. a longtime Jordan actor. required some gentle encouragement. As Jordan explains. his character Henry. 'must be one of the most unappealing parts in cinema. He's the essence of dullness and he can‘t give his wife an orgasm.‘
Resting on one's laurels doesn‘t seem to be part of Jordan's make-up. He's hoping to direct a film in Dublin this year. which has been written by fellow Irishman Conor MacPherson (I Went Dawn). and he‘s also at work on a new novel (Jordan‘s already penned four. plus a book of short stories) about a woman ‘who‘s dead and who becomes a ghost‘. But first up is a certain
'I found Graham Greene's novel forcefully erotic.’ Neil Jordan
Hollywood awards ceremony — and there‘s certainly room on the Jordan mantlepiece for another Oscar to accompany the one he won for his screenplay for The Crying Game a few years ago.
The End Of The Affair opens Fri 11 Feb. See review, page 20. See pages 103-110 for more Valentine's features.