Starring Diane Lane, Richard Gere, Olivier Martinez
Scott’s Review #1,278
Reviewed July 21, 2022
Unfaithful (2002) is an American version of the brilliant 1969 French film named The Unfaithful Wife, directed by Claude Chabrol.
Directed by Adrian Lyne, most famous for directing the smoldering and creepy Fatal Attraction (1987) which awarded him an Academy Award nomination in the direction category, Unfaithful is unsurprisingly brimming with the same eroticism and sexual ferocity.
What’s exceptional about it is the character development and the empathy felt for the characters and their convictions.
This makes Unfaithful work.
To say it’s watered down from the Chabrol version is a bit unfair because it has an identity all its own, though his version is superior in suspense and naturally, more French from a cinematic perspective.
Lyne’s film is slicker and wrapped up tighter, and much more mainstream-it does the job well and provides compelling entertainment.
In both films, the subject matter of guilt runs rampant.
Edward (Richard Gere) and Connie (Diane Lane) live seemingly happily in their upper-middle-class Westchester County, New York neighborhood.
When Edward learns that Connie has lied to him about an affair, suspicion leads him to uncover the devastating truth about her infidelity with Paul. (Olivier Martinez) the hunky man who has captured her heart.
He confronts Connie’s ‘boy toy’ which results in a deadly accident caused by Edward’s surprising rage. Edward must cover up the truth with detectives questioning both him and Connie about their involvement with Paul.
Can their marriage survive the damage?
The Hallmark television movie premise rises to tremendous credibility thanks to the fantastic acting by Lane, Gere, and Martinez.
The standout is Lane who the audience may relate to a bit more than the other two. She fills Connie with a tired and weary tone. She appreciates her good life but is nonetheless bored with it.
Some may relate to her, but others will shame her for her infidelity.
Each character provides their motivation for their character actions. The stoic chemistry between Lane and Gere’s characters perfectly balances the lusty dynamic between the Lane and Martinez characters.
Wisely, the story is one that most married couples can deem true. When the romance wanes, sometimes the doldrums result. Connie doesn’t purposefully set out to cheat on Edward but the repetition of raising their eight-year-old son and casserole Wednesdays cause her to seize an unexpected opportunity.
The rainy, windy setup with a sexy young French artist at her fingertips, is smoldering with intrigue. The lusty scenes between Connie and Paul are rich with sex, like when they bathe together and make love in Paul’s hallway.
The titillating chemistry works well.
A clever scene in a coffee shop is daringly good. Connie’s girlfriends drool with delight as Paul walks by them, completely unaware that he is Connie’s new beau. How jealous they’d be if they knew the truth.
The face-off scene between Edward and Paul is shrouded with machismo as both struggled for the upper hand, toying with each other for power.
The tone changes to one of Hitchcockian intrigue as Edward and Connie must forge together and cover up their actions. Not trusting each other, there is an interesting dynamic among themselves and what they tell and keep hidden from the flocking detectives.
After all, an upstanding white couple couldn’t possibly be involved in murder, could they, the detectives ponder?
Easily serving as the opening act to the more famous Lyne offering, Fatal Attraction, Unfaithful (2002) both films draw parallels to each other.
They successfully manipulate the audience in a good way, using intrigue, thrills, and flesh to elicit a ‘glued to their seats’ result.
Sometimes a good, old-fashioned, thrill ride is just what the doctor ordered.
Oscar Nominations: Best Actress-Diane Lane