Excellent movie. I saw it again just the other day because I wanted to see if my reaction would change now that I'm all mature, and because of a request from my good friends at Oh La La (hey, and you don't even need to have the coolest sexiest site on the planet for that, you can request a review too, just e-mail me).
I first saw the movie when I was 17 and did not like it at all. Now, I thought this was a true Merchant Ivory production. Rich in every sense. Excellent acting.
But, I still came out of it with a negative image for the gays overall. I think that negative image blurred my judgment of the movie before. Now, I think it is a little easier to separate the excellence of the movie and the slight negative light for the gays (like I did here).
In the movie, James Wilby plays Maurice Hall. It's the early 1900s England, and we see Maurice's childhood, college years and adult life. Gay movies like that lifespan thing. Very dramatic. He falls for Hugh Grant. Everybody is from reasonably important families and suffers a lot of pressure from society. In the time of the movie, homosexual acts were a crime in England, and the social pressure was far greater than it is today (duh?). One of Hugh's friends goes to jail after being framed with a guy. Heavy stuff. All that is a positive light for sure, serves as criticism.
This is the first touch between the two love birds:
So, continue reading if you don't mind spoilers. I will need to spoil the movie to make my case. I threw in a tiny bit of quasi nudity after the jump to lure you.
So, Hugh Grant never really does it with Wilby, he is all about this Greek ideal of male bonding. Crap. So Hugh goes straight! The movie leads us to believe the imprisonment of a friend of Hugh plays a big role in Hugh's going straight. Hugh is scared that he too can be thrown in jail. Hugh travels to Greece, switches to straight, and remains straight all the way to the end of the movie, and there really isn't any indication of what happened there. Was it just the social pressure? Did he really go ex-gay? Was he bisexual? Cult? The movie does not clarify and I am not going to the book to see what was it. It needs to be in the movie.
Hugh marries a troll (that's an "ex-gay" staple, right? handsome devil marries a toad). Take a look at the TOAD Hugh Grant weds. Seriously:
Now, the DVD cover that starts this post, with Wilby and the other guy, without Hugh, makes much more sense. It is not all too weird that Hugh Grant's character should be relegated to a more secondary character in the movie. Wilby is clearly the star here.
In the end, Wilby gets it with the help. There is a bit of frontal nudity in the scene. Yay! I'm all for the help:
Now, as a dumb teenager, I was bothered with the movie. I wanted to change like Hugh Grant changed, got it? That was my problem with the movie. And I still think it is a problem (I don't want to change anymore, of course, but other people might feel unnecessarily confused). Hence the Shipwreck. It is a mild Shipwreck, but I do think Hugh's going straight was more of a bummer than Wilby's courage of sticking to his true self. It's off my chest now.