Director James Ivory brings his subdued, Masterpiece Theater style to a forbidden subject -- homosexual love. Maurice is based on E.M. Forster's suppressed 1914 novel that was held back from publication until after his death. The film takes place at Cambridge, before World War I, when homosexuality was outlawed in Great Britain.
Clive (Hugh Grant), an aristocratic Englishman with a life of privilege, suddenly shocks his close friend Maurice (James Wilby) by declaring his love for him. Maurice is initially stunned by the pronouncement, but in the end finds himself giving Clive a passionate kiss and telling him that he loves him as well.
Clive, in the stiff-upper-lip British manner, considers their love to be more of an intellectual concept, but Maurice becomes passionate about the affair. Clive, afraid of being exposed as a homosexual, backs off and breaks up with Maurice for marriage, family, and politics.
Maurice is crestfallen, but then he has a passionate affair with Clive's gamekeeper, Scudder (Rupert Graves), and Maurice and Scudder decide to risk their reputations by openly living together as lovers.