Maurice (movie)

Maurice (movie)

Movie: Maurice
Director: James Ivory
Released: 1987
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.

Author

“I’m a music major that plays the bassoon on a semi-regular basis. I doubt that I would enjoy a long walk on the beach. I play too many video games and watch quite a few more movies than I have the time for. I am perfectly willing to end a sentence with a preposition. See previous sentence. This year I’m the events co-ordinator for the Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival and am excited and terrified by the impending responsibility. Should I grow up, I sincerely hope to be disreputable, or at the very least, have obtained some mild notoriety.”

20 comments

  • @GayCrow: The dvd I rented had all of those extras on it too, as I was delighted to discover. Probably my favourite gay movie.

  • Great review, Nathan.

    I love this movie as well. It was one of the first gay movies I watched, and one that I could watch over and over.

    I was lucky enough to buy the special DVD set, which has all sorts of extras, including interviews with the three main actors, and the story about how James Wilby and Rupert Graves decided to act out “The Kiss”; and a lovely anecdote from Hugh Grant telling how his brother found Hugh and James rehearsing their scenes, which was quite embarrassing for them. Great stuff!

    Everything about this movie is lovely; the scenery, the music and the acting (the actors aren’t half bad either). Five plus stars from me!

  • You’ve caught my full attention with this amazing review, and I’ll eagerly look forward to your future posts.

  • Well there are “gay classics” and there are “classics” that have gay characters, gay authors, or even subtle gay undertones. There is a difference, although sometimes subtle, between the two. Some people have trouble with works such as Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran or of Edmund White’s novels being thought of as classics (mostly literary critics) although I think if you asked any gay person or anyone here who loves m/m, they would tell you that definitely are, not only because they are culturally significant within our community but that they were influential to lgbt fiction/literature as well.

    On the other hand, literature that is considered “classic” is typically from before the early 20th century (of course, there are many exceptions to that for different reasons) so it is difficult to find authors from this time whose works that could be considered “gay” who weren’t censored or who were even published (or who, like Oscar Wilde, were brave enough to risk prison and hard labor…that is a hero to me, btw, those anonymous men and women). E.M. Forster is a favorite author of mine, my other all-time favorite being Tolstoy. Incidentally, I always thought Russian literature was chock-full of characters with homoerotic undertones, especially Pierre in War and Peace. I don’t think I could even tell you why (I am curious if anyone else has ever thought that?). I suppose it’s pretty subjective but it all comes down to each person: what makes a classic? what makes a gay classic or a classic gay?

    That’s a good question actually, what do you all think?

    As to the first category, another of my all time favorite “classic gay” novels is Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, another great novel with an excellent film adaptation. So does anyone else have any favorite gay classics?

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