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The second of the three Merchant/Ivory films adapting E.M. Forster novels (between A Room with a View and Howard's End), Maurice deals with a theme few period pieces dare mention--a young man's struggle with his homosexuality. It's not just a gay coming-of-age story, however. The hero wrestles with British class society as much as his personal and sexual identity. The film opens on a stormy, windswept beach, as an older man awkwardly instructs young, fatherless Maurice Hall (James Wilby) in the "sacred mysteries" of sex. The same turbulent, wordless struggle with passion lasts throughout this slowly evolving,...