Director: James Ivory
Writers: Adapted from a novel by E.M. Forster by Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James Ivory.
Stars: James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, & Sir Ben Kingsley.
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
A guest review by NathanV
Maurice (pronounced Morris) is a tale about a young man named Maurice Hall (James Wilby). It follows his story from adolescence, through university, and into adult life. More than that, it follows Maurice’s discovery, attempt to cure, and ultimate embracement of homosexuality in early 20th century England. The film begins with Maurice as a young lad with his teacher trying to teach him about the mysteries of sex rather clumsily. Afterwards we find a rather confused and anxious young man attending to his studies whereupon he meets the dashing and carefree Clive Durham (Hugh Grant). The two begin a love affair, albeit a love affair that stops short of the “unspeakable vice of the Greeks.” As they enter adulthood, Clive begins to fear the opinion of others about such a relationship, especially after an old friend suffers through a nasty and public trial for his homosexuality.
Ismail Merchant and James Ivory are well known for their lush period piece films. They made Maurice right after another E.M. Forster based film, A Room with a View. E.M. Forster wrote his book Maurice in 1913 but it wasn’t published until 1971 after Forster’s death. There was a note discovered in the manuscript that read, “Publishable, but worth it?” Undoubtedly, this was in reference to the public and legal attitudes toward homosexuality in his day. Thankfully, by 1971, opinion had changed and we are now able to enjoy his masterful work.
Maurice is one of my favourite movies of all time. At 140 minutes in length it’s one of the longer gay movies out there. If you’re looking for a fabulous campy comedy, you’ve come to the wrong place. If, however, you are interested in watching superbly crafted characters with fantastic dialogue then you’ve definitely made a wise decision. As with all Merchant and Ivory productions, the sets are breath-taking and they even managed some on location shooting when King’s College opened it’s doors to film crews for the very first time. Sir Ben Kingsley is amazing as a cigar wielding American psychiatrist whom Maurice seeks out for advice about his homosexuality. He humorously advises Maurice to try and walk about with a gun.
I wanted to begin with a movie that I was willing to bestow a five star rating onto. In order to earn five stars, a movie has to make me feel emotions strongly and very few movies are able to accomplish this task. Maurice is a fabulous movie and an excellent example of what an LGBT movie is capable of.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I failed to discuss the amazing score composed by Richard Robbins. After watching this movie I was determined to purchase the soundtrack. At the time, it was not readily available on Amazon.com as it is now. I ended up tracking down a Japanese copy of the soundtrack from a seller in Amsterdam. I still enjoy listening to the soundtrack, particularly the music that plays in Clive’s final scene.
A perfect movie.
Fun Fact: Helena Bonham Carter has a brief uncredited cameo where she insults Maurice’s cricket skills.