Unfaithful


Directed by: Adrian Lyne
Written by:Alvin Sargent, William Broyles Jr
Starring: Diane Lane, Richard Gere, Olivier Martinez, Erik Per Sullivan, Dominic Chianese
Released: July 11, 2002
Grade: B+

A chance encounter that would never have ordinarily happened.  Walking through the city on a windy day, Connie Sumner (Lane) bumps into an attractive book dealer named Paul Martel (Martinez).  With grazed knees and unable to hale a taxi, Paul asks Connie up to her apartment to treat her knee.  Paul is flirting with Connie the whole time and gives her a book to take with her before leaving.  She reads a paragraph from the novel - “be happy for this moment, this moment is your life”.

Smitten, Connie returns home to her husband of 11 years, Edward (Gere) and their young son Charlie.  They live a comfortable if not dull life.  Edward manages a successful business and Connie has a healthy reputation for organising charity fundraisers but the spark is missing in their relationship.

Initially, Connie returns to Paul’s apartment to thank him but she returns again and again.  The two begin a passionate affair and Connie loses all track of the world around her.  Edward senses a change in Connie and asks an old friend to follow his wife to confirm his suspicions.  Now that he knows for real, the question remains as to what can be done to rectify the situation...

From the director of Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal, Unfaithful is a sensual thriller that does begin slowly.  We all know the premise of the story and it’s easy to feel tired at the repetitive love scenes and encounters between Connie and Paul.  The film improves as it enters the unknown territory following Paul’s discovery of the affair.  I hope I’m not giving too much away in comparing the film to last year’s Oscar nominee In The Bedroom.  It’s a story about what lengths an ordinary person will go to protect their interests.

Diane Lane gives a marvellous performance.  She deserves her top billing over Richard Gere in the film’s credits.  There’s already talk of a possible Oscar nomination but there’s a long way to go yet.  We can feel her confusion and anxiousness.  She knows what she’s doing is wrong and repeatedly tries to pull away from Paul but the happiness he provides her continues to draw her in.  She senses trouble is brewing but this obsession now has complete control over her.

Richard Gere has the smaller role but plays it well with his sullen demeanour.  Providing the majority of the film’s jokes is Malcolm In The Middle’s youngest child, Erik Per Sullivan, as the son.  Adrian Lyne adds some nice touches with his directing - I particularly enjoyed the early scenes showing the wind sweeping through the New York streets.

We’ve been there before but Unfaithful relies upon its strong performances and direction to satisfy.  Many audience members will relate to and understand the forces driving Edward and Connie - it’ll provide food for thought.