The complex relationships among an Oxford professor, one of his students, and the young woman who captivates both of them is the subject of this difficult but rewarding drama.
Director Joseph Losey and writer Harold Pinter had previously collaborated on 1963's The Servant, and they surrounded this recasting of a Nicholas Mosley novel with a similar atmosphere of ominous mystery. The story is presented through flashbacks and disconnected memories that trace the characters' interactions.
Though the mood is occasionally brightened by satirical views of the academic world, the overall effect is rather somber, concerned with missed opportunities, unhealthy obsessions, and unavoidable regret. Dirk Bogarde superbly captures the pensive professor's torment, with able support from Jacqueline Sassard and Michael York as the younger couple.