Rated R for sexuality, language and a scene of violence.
Directed By: Adrian Lyne
Written By: Alvin Sargent
No. It would start out like that, and then, um, something would happen. Someone, uh, finds out, or someone falls in love, and it ends disastrously. It always ends disastrously. -Tracy
A married suburban wife meets a symbolic crossroad in her life that leads her down the path of adultery with a much younger man. It’s only a matter of time before her devoted husband begins to suspect something has gone awry. The truth becomes difficult to decipher, and careless becomes Connies actions. Will she be caught, or will she come to her senses and return to her life of comfort peace?
Director Adrian Lyne seems to have an affection for films that involve disastrous results of extra-marital affairs. Films like Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal, and now Unfaithful are all movies that prove that in any situation, with even the happiest of couples, cheating always ends badly. Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal did a much better job of securing this theory in a way that was both entertaining and perplexing. Unfaithful paved down a much simpler road that relied more on the melodrama than the actual destruction Diane Lane’s actions created.
While her performance was possibly the best of her career, her motivations and behavior was typical for a person in this situation. She isn’t even unhappy in her marriage or life, she’s more or less complacent. A moment of excitement and thrill sends her chasing after a younger guy that becomes very less of a relationship and more of a lustful addiction. Suddenly, her addiction puts the rest of her life in peril as she begins to let her two lives come close to intertwining. I think the problem with this, was the situation became too authentic, yet the reactions and behavior it was perceived in were too sensationalized. The film cuts dangerously close to reality and by doing so a realistic reaction, behavior, and interpretation of the scenes is a necessary response. But there was this feel of over the top drama that really became an awkward distraction.
Another problem this film created by being so authentic to it’s subject matter, was that it became at times just uncomfortable and boring. Sure, what was at stake was important, but something else should have been added into the mix. Adrian Lyne focused on it being too stylized instead of remembering the viewer needs something more to soak in than gratuitous love scenes, a simple plot, and character arcs that are predictable because no extra conflict has been thrown in the mix. I’m all for a simple story if it’s told in a way that is captivating, but this one actually felt pretentious at times.
Sure, the ending was pretty intense, but being such a drastic reaction in a story where everything is played more low key, made it almost feel out of place and unrealistic. If the rest of the way the story had been told gave some feeling of momentum building in that direction it may have, but in the end I felt like it was contrived and just meant to shock rather than be the lesson to the moral of the story.
- Diane Lane as Connie Summer
- Richard Gere as Ed Summer
- Oliver Martinez as Paul Martel
- Chad Lowe as Bill Stone
- Michelle Monaghan as Lindsay
- Kate Burton as Tracy
- Erik Per Sullivan as Charlie Summer
The most interesting component about this movie was the performance by Diane Lane. While her character is not necessarily likable, and asks for little sympathy for her sinful behavior, the dedication to which she completely surrenders herself in that role makes it all the more interesting to soak in. Her beauty alone is breath taking, but her intensity sucks you in long enough to want to stick around and understand what makes her tick. The film never gives an outright answer to the “why” of her character’s behavior, but her performance does a stellar job in making Connie seem much more complex than she actually is. Her two leading men, Richard Gere and Oliver Martinez turned out sound performances as well, making the nature of the story much easier to stomach.
Ratings And Suggestions
Though the content of Unfaithful is complex in it’s nature the stories theme, pacing, and character depiction became too one dimensional and predictable. The only positives included Diane Lanes amazing performance, the stylized look of the movie, and the steamy sexual interludes. Unfortunately, those examples just weren’t enough compensation for a movie that drowned in it’s own depressive feel and melodrama. This is not a film I enjoyed, nor is it one I would recommend to anyone. For a movie in this genre please view Indecent Proposal or Fatal Attraction, the examples of adultery may be more extreme, but the stories and character’s are much more interesting as well. The best I can do for Unfaithful is One And A Half out of Four Stars.