The End of the Affair

Movie review by
Rich Phippen, Common Sense Media
The End of the Affair Movie Poster Image
Period drama about lost love has sex and nudity.
  • R
  • 2000
  • 102 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

An adulterous affair is at the center of the story. Themes of jealousy, mistrust, and lack of communication.

Positive Role Models

The three leads are all deeply flawed, displaying jealously, betrayal, and selfishness. Sarah is strong-willed and independent but is in the midst of an affair.


WWII air raid. Explosion causes character to fall several floors, resulting in a cut head and (wrongly) assumed death. Character becomes ill and dies. Character pounds a fist on a table.


Extended sex scenes with nudity, including breasts and buttocks. Characters have long conversations while naked. 


One use of "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink whiskey to deal with stress. Sherry is drunk in a restaurant. Frequent cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The End of the Affair -- based on British novelist Graham Greene's book -- is set during and after WWII and revolves around an adulterous relationship. There are several fairly explicit sex scenes between the two leads (Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore), which include naked breasts and buttocks. A bomb explodes, leading to a character falling several floors and cutting their head. One character becomes unwell and (spoiler alert) dies. Drinking (whiskey and sherry) and smoking occur throughout the film, which is accurate for the time period. Strong language is minimal, with just one use of the word "hell."

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What's the story?

THE END OF THE AFFAIR is set in 1940s London, where novelist Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) runs into an old army friend, Henry (Stephen Rea), and his wife, Sarah (Julianne Moore). Unbeknownst to Henry, Sarah and Maurice started an affair two years before, carrying on until Sarah broke it off without giving a reason. Henry confides in Maurice that he suspects Sarah of being unfaithful and has hired a detective to follow her. As Maurice becomes involved with the investigation, his feelings for Sarah are reignited.

Is it any good?

This is a movie about adults for adults, making it fairly inaccessible for younger audiences. Despite a strong, mysterious opening, the movie descends into melodrama, and the resolution relies on a spiritual edge that doesn't match the tone of the rest of the story. Based on the novel by Graham Greene, the story feels better suited to page than screen. 

Moore’s understated performance and faultless English accent, coupled with Fiennes' convincing turn as a repressed, humorless writer make The End of the Affair perfectly watchable. But by the time it ends, this farcical love triangle is unlikely to warrant a second viewing. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the adultery in The End of the Affair. Do you think less of the lead characters for having an affair? What are the ramifications of adultery in the movie, and what might they be in real life?

  • Discuss how sex is depicted in the movie. What role does sex play in Maurice and Sarah's relationship? Talk about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • What role do faith and God play in the movie? How does Maurice and Sarah's relationship with God differ?

  • How are alcohol and smoking portrayed? Are they accurate for the time period? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama and romance

Themes & Topics

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