Following in the wake of their acclaimed screen adaptation of A Room with A View, the team of director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant have turned to another E.M. Forster work to create Maurice. Written in 1914, this novel was suppressed for 50 years because of its controversial subject matter of homosexuality. It was published in 1971, one year after Forster’s death.
James Wilby plays Maurice, an earnest and amiable lad attending Cambridge. There he meets Risley (Mark Tandy), an aristocratic genius, and Clive (Hugh Grant), a devotee of Greek philosophy. Not knowing how to handle their erotic feelings for each other, Maurice and Clive establish a platonic friendship.
Years later, they each choose a different manner of dealing with their sexual orientation. When their schoolmate Risley is sentenced to prison for seducing a guardsman, Clive becomes frightened and decides his feelings for Maurice are too risky. He decides to marry. Maurice turns to a family doctor (Denholm Elliott) and a London hypnotist (Ben Kingsley) for help in understanding his homosexuality. The cure comes in having sex with Alec (Rupert Graves), the gamekeeper at Clive’s estate. The two men decide afterward to build a life together.
Maurice is a beautifully photographed film with top-drawer performances from a fine cast. The story convincingly portrays the inward struggle of two young men to come to terms with their homosexuality during times when its practice was a crime.