Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Confronting Deep Themes like Spirituality and Betrayal ; Interview / Neil Jordan

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Confronting Deep Themes like Spirituality and Betrayal ; Interview / Neil Jordan

Article excerpt

Irish film director Neil Jordan has had to defend his personal vision against conventional Hollywood wisdom for much of his career. His latest effort, "The End of the Affair," based on a Graham Greene novel, is no exception.

"They wanted me to cast some young hot stars," Jordan recalls with a shake of his head. "But that would have utterly changed what the film is about."

British actor Ralph Fiennes stars as a tortured intellectual, Maurice Bendrix, who has a wartime affair with the wife of a civil servant, played by Oscar nominee Julianne Moore. Jordan ("The Crying Game" and "Michael Collins") is well known for dealing with mature themes such as faith and betrayal, and duty versus passion.

"Young actors," Jordan says, "couldn't have handled those sorts of emotions."

What interests him are the conflicts that these mature adults must navigate.

"The basic thrust of the book is to confront all the characters with a fact beyond their comprehension," says Jordan - namely the presence of spirituality in everyday life. "Those are the stories I'm drawn to, the ones that have inexplicable forces at work in people's lives." After all, he says, "We don't really know the big answer, do we?"

Beyond that, Jordan maintains, "We live in a post-religious world where definitions of spirituality are nonspecific," he says, adding that interest in spirituality is at an all-time high, just not the sort affiliated with religious denominations. "All those labels aren't so necessary anymore."

How to stay true to himself while dealing with greater commercial opportunity is an ongoing struggle in Jordan's career. What was essentially an art-house film, "The Crying Game" (1992), rocketed him to international fame, winning him an Oscar for his screenplay.

The New York Daily News dubbed Jordan "one of the world's most brilliant and bravely unconventional directors," while The New York Times hailed him as "one of a kind. …

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