said it in my review of the Affair Gone Bad movie "Happy
End", and I'll say it again here: In this day and age, only a fool
would have an affair. Remade from a French film called "La Femme
Infidele", and directed by Adrian Lyne, the man who introduced the phrase
"fatal attraction" as the most effective means of steering away from
adultery for men everywhere, "Unfaithful" is a straightforward Affair
Gone Bad movie, and it ends exactly the way you thought it would -- badly for
And so, let me break down the simple plot of
"Unfaithful": After an accidental meeting, Connie Sumner (Diane Lane)
begins an affair with young Frenchman Paul (Olivier Martinez). The affair begins
hot and heavy and ends in misery and violence when Connie's husband Edward
(Richard Gere) discovers the affair, and on the spur of the moment, goes to
introduce himself to the much younger Paul. As expected, things go bad. Very
I am not at all concern about spoiling any surprise plot
twist, because the film's trailers have already done it for me. Remember that
scene where Diane Lane's character asks her husband, who has just discovered his
wife's affair, in the most anxious and fearful voice, "What have you
done?" That scene spoils whatever twist "Unfaithful" planned to
spring on its audience. You knew it was coming -- and it did.
The screenplay by Alvin Sargent and William Broyles Jr.,
based on the 1969 French original, is very unflattering to its characters. The
movie makes very few attempts to convince us that Diane Lane's Connie needs
the affair; the truth is she doesn't. As a female friend jokes to Connie, having
an affair should be considered like taking a pottery class -- just something fun
to try out. This, it seems, is exactly how Connie is approaching the affair.
It's something she's never tried, and the idea, and the follow-through, of the
affair turns her on even more than the actual affair itself. Is she in love with
Paul? No, not really. But she is in love with having the affair.
By the same token, Olivier Martinez's suave Frenchman Paul
is not anywhere close to being our hero. This guy is a player, the kind of man
that probably has two or three women lined up to take Connie's place as soon as
she ends the affair. Paul isn't in love; he's already working another target
in-between his afternoon sessions with Connie. This is the kind of guy you don't
want for a best friend, because chances are he'll steal your girlfriend away
just to prove that he can. Paul is a punk, but one blessed with good looks and
an easy rapport with women.
As the wronged husband, Richard Gere's Edward has the
potential to be the film's most sympathetic character. Much like the wronged
husband in the South Korean Affair Gone Bad movie "Happy
End" (which, incidentally, also broadcasted its "twist" with
its movie poster), Edward has our sympathies until the very moment he makes a
fateful decision to deal with his perpetrators in a most brutal fashion. It's
interesting to note that perhaps just 15 years ago ex-hunk Richard Gere would
probably be playing the Paul role. Gere's performance is very good, reminding me
that the guy is a very good actor despite some bad roles in recent years.
Lane's much ballyhooed performance (especially during the
2003 Awards season) is certainly worthy of recognition, and it's quite brave of
Lane to play a woman who, as the film goes on, becomes less and less likeable.
Most actors would have demanded that the screenplay be stacked in their favor;
not so here. Lane's Connie is not a victim to anything but her own indiscretion;
she has everything a woman could want, but the opportunity to indulge in an
affair trumps everything.
"Unfaithful" is certainly a good entry into the
familiar Affair Gone Bad subgenre. The film benefits most from its 3 main cast,
and Adrian Lyne's direction is assured, managing to be very erotic without
showing very much skin. Lane is still one of the sexiest actresses working
today, and personally, it's nice to see her (finally) get so much recognition.