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Overall Rating
2.94

Awesome: 12.2%
Worth A Look: 20.73%
Average: 23.17%
Pretty Bad36.59%
Total Crap: 7.32%

6 reviews, 46 user ratings


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Unfaithful
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by Erik Childress

"A Simple Message Desguised As Mainstream European Art"
2 stars

One should realize that there can be a fine line between a European art film and a straight-to-video sex-boiler. Both genre labels usually involve provocative sexual experiences – the European, because they are more candid about their attitudes towards intercourse - and us Americans, who just like to see sweaty, naked people. A foreign film would use sexual expressions of desire and love to comment on the pain and anguish of what should be the greatest feeling a human being should ever experience. Straight-to-video releases just like to give us more sweaty, naked people until a plot kicks in during the last half hour, usually involving someone getting shot (and I mean with bullets.) Adrian Lyne’s Unfaithful is a bridge between the two, a film that believes is teaching its audience moral lessons about marriage and infidelity, but also loves to bring us the sweaty, naked people.

Director Adrian Lyne IS European and anyone familiar with his resume knows he’s no stranger to the nude people. Other than his most accomplished work, 1990’s Jacob’s Ladder (in many ways, the original Sixth Sense), Lyne’s films have not painted the most flattering portraits of womanhood. Avoiding the categorization of mental and/or physical rape, the women of Lyne’s films are sexually active creatures who either sell their mind, body or soul or become unapologetic psychos.

There was Flashdance, the story of a female welder with dreams of being a dancer who earns money working for a pseudo peep show and getting wet – early shades of Showgirls. 9 ½ Weeks was a “romance” that turned sadomasochistic in the way Kim Basinger completely surrendered herself over to every whim and order of Mickey Rourke like a slave. Fatal Attraction, ‘nuff said. Indecent Proposal showed how jealousy and whoring turned one half of a happily married couple into a money-grubbing wench. Finally, there was the 1997 remake of Lolita. Again, ‘nuff said. Unfaithful continues this trend

During a particularly blustery day that even Winnie the Pooh would look at and say “screw it”, the winds of change blow into the lives of Connie and Edward Sumner. Connie (Diane Lane) literally bumps into young, studly Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez) outside his apartment. She skins her leg, he offers her a chance to clean herself up and she enters his place, which is more like a rare library. Nothing happens, although his attempts at seduction are as subtle as the music he plays, which just screams out “let me bend you over the chair.”

Connie returns home to her marriage of 11 years and the young son she dotes on. Edward (Richard Gere) knows how attractive his wife is and likes to tease her with jokes about flirting and hitting on her clients at work. There’s no reason for us to suspect she is unsatisfied with her home life, but when Paul’s phone number falls out of the book he gave her, she calls him up. She doesn’t seem to know why she’s doing it but she meets him again and again until she finds herself in his arms and on his bed, shaking like a leaf in a frantically powerful scene that quickly turns from passion into a disturbingly playful form of rape.

Although Paul never seems to have time to talk to her about anything but getting into her pants, he completely disregards the wedding ring on her finger. I guess two can play at that game. Edward, meanwhile, begins to pick up the subtle hints that something may be going on and Unfaithful quickly becomes the ticking clock of when and how the truth will come out and what its consequences will be. Edward’s final realization turns into an incredibly potent and well-acted confrontation.

But what’s it all mean? What are we supposed to take away from Unfaithful when the characters ultimately take away nothing more than one of the most cliched logics about marriage? This is like a filmmaker’s idea of a mainstream art film. So many things are seen but not heard, metaphors jump out at you like a jack-in-the-box with a bullhorn and characters don’t have discussions but simplify everything into a single sentence that’s supposed to justify their behavior.

When Connie implies she may be making a mistake, Paul says to her there are no mistakes, “only what you do and don’t do.” Words of wisdom from an accented hunk that screams “look at this F*@#ing guy” and who’s getting more action on the side than R. Kelly at a Junior High. Later in the film when Connie’s son wets his pants, she tells him not to worry because “everyone has accidents.” Honey, one time may be an accident (if two people trip the right way and get the proverbial round peg into the triangle,) but going back to catch the regular nooner matinee, not to mention trysts in public restaurants, restrooms and hallways is an epidemic that demands maybe the kind of shot you’re not regularly receiving.

Eyes Wide Shut was a far more thought-provoking meditation on infidelity and the concept of marriage in general. It delved further into the mind of man and woman through both debate and unspoken action. Connie thankfully doesn’t launch into some ham-fisted explanation of why she did what she did, but not once in the entire movie does she ever say she’s sorry either. She may as well have just blamed the windy day on the three villains from Superman II.

Richard Gere and Diane Lane both give terrific performances, but it’s hard to feel sympathetic for the way the plot plays out. A certain natural tension is built into any situation, whether you approve of a character or not, when they may be exposed for their indiscretions. Yet I found myself laughing and rooting for Connie to be caught with her pants down and don’t entirely disapprove of the actions Edward takes in the second half, although moralists would turn the screws and say what he does is worse. In Fatal Attraction, we certainly didn’t support Michael Douglas’ weekend affair, but we also didn’t want to see his family be affected by it. Connie doesn’t take advantage of a weekend while her spouse is out of town, she selfishly plunges herself into an easily avoidable predicament, then continues to lie to her husband, neglects her child and in case you forgot, never once APOLOGIZES!

We’ve seen this story more times than Connie screws Paul and seeing Adrian Lyne bring it to the big screen again is the equivalent of watching the Lifetime channel on the Champs d'Elyses. There’s nothing Earth-shatteringly fresh this time around, although Lyne seems somewhat conscious of being able to complete a “do over” of the themes of Fatal Attraction’s original ending. (Notice how Paul even spots the giant kitchen knife on his counter in a key scene.) It’s no surprise that this is a retelling of the 1969 film La Femme Infidèle, but how many times must Lyne remind us that he’s making art and not a tawdry dime novel by drawing parallels between markers and blood like Hester Prynne revisited or the ten-thousandth car wash/sins analogy? Although the final shot is very telling, it’s a long way coming to be told that married people have secrets and you have to work through the pain.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5906&reviewer=198
originally posted: 05/10/02 13:44:47
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User Comments

11/20/14 Sharon Moving performance by Gere. Great by Lane. So sad. Makes you think. 5 stars
1/10/14 Michelle calling a child actor "gruesome" makes you lack credibility 1 stars
10/14/11 Paul I cant forget Diane being fucked in the bathroom 3 stars
1/02/10 Gsat No one can get away with adultery... 4 stars
4/11/08 Dogman Diane Lane is HOT HOT HOT...oohhhhh yeah!!! 4 stars
8/28/07 Albert Bayarcal the movie was good but the thruth was denied. 2 stars
6/13/07 al smith diane lane jesus is she so sexy what a body 3 stars
1/28/07 David Pollastrini sexy 3 stars
11/11/06 cody a strong first hour with sexy diane lane and soap opera second half. overall average 3 stars
10/15/06 burim kabashi no coment, very nice movie 1 stars
7/10/06 cyman1000 wonderful, fantastic. Lane is caught in a sexual frenzy, very intense-i understand that. 5 stars
5/07/06 chienne Diane Lane...far remove from Lorena Wood, Richard still wooden, but I like it. 4 stars
8/27/05 ES Is Gere ever in a movie that is not about adultry? M. Douglas and him have similar tastes 1 stars
4/12/05 Ronin not bad 3 stars
3/21/05 Sid Savillo/Novelist/Scriptwriter Stimulating ( to the brain) saga of an obsessive "love" without boundaries beyond marriage 5 stars
2/14/05 MEsw Not bad, not great and Diana Lane turns a fine performance 3 stars
2/01/05 Jeff Anderson This film kicks FATAL ATTRACTION'S ass. Diane Lane is a SEXY, BRILLIANT MARVEL IN THIS!!!!! 5 stars
9/13/04 Jim Adrian Lyne keeps making the same movie, but he does it fairly well. 4 stars
4/09/04 LIAM JACKSON what i wouldn't give to be olivier martinez in that doggy style scene. Lane is hot! 5 stars
1/26/04 me simple and cliched but well cast 3 stars
10/23/03 Goofy Maxwell Last half is a CSI episode w.o. the investigation, ruining a fine first half. 3 stars
10/01/03 TheOthersFan ridiculous.... could be unintentionably passed off as a black comedy 2 stars
8/18/03 Phil M. Aficionado Sommersby's review is right. Plot contrivances and story gaps undo great performances 3 stars
7/09/03 Gil Carlson Better than reviewed here. See this instead of Far From Heaven. 4 stars
5/23/03 bear dude, the sex scenes in this movie r better than playboy! check it out guys, good stuff 1 stars
2/24/03 SGT. TICKLEBELLY fun to see the french guy's head bashed in....the french are all gay. 2 stars
2/10/03 Janell Miller sucks,sucks,suck,sucks major dick 1 stars
2/04/03 Trixie Diane Lane was awesome 4 stars
1/05/03 malcolm death by sno globe 4 stars
12/28/02 Rayna Kuzio I really liked this movie, but not the ending.... 5 stars
12/25/02 Film Dude ...did I see the same movie as everyone else? 4 stars
12/16/02 Laurian Diaconescu If you can't see further than the sex scenes, it's really sad.A great movie.Very realistic. 5 stars
11/29/02 mike smith awesome 5 stars
11/17/02 Tim Taylor Another notch for Adrian Lynne! 4 stars
11/13/02 carl herman Lynne cheats us out of exploring many great results of infidelity; STD, saving the marriage 3 stars
10/03/02 Heidi Ho Suspense succumbs to comedy of coincidence: stuck elevator & auto collision. 3 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock Very very ordinary 2 stars
8/03/02 Me Not You Freak has one of the funniest reviews I've read. Right on ! 1 stars
6/10/02 Heather Gender reversal of Fatal Attraction, great performance from Diane Lane, weak plot though 4 stars
6/08/02 ownerofdajoint diane lane makes it all worthwhile......say no more..... 5 stars
6/03/02 Poumpus and better than you Well it was just average but the fucking was awesome sometimes 5 stars
5/31/02 Flick Chick a hell of a lot better than "About A Boy" 3 stars
5/25/02 Suzz Predictable; even the sex got boring. 3 stars
5/17/02 Veronica Foxx Eric's right, starts w/interesting premise and does well, but then it just drops the ball. 2 stars
5/15/02 john loved it 4 stars
5/15/02 Film Guy I kinda was like BORED out of my mind 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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  10-May-2002 (R)

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