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:: Unfaithful

Unfaithful explores the relationship between married couple Edward (Richard Gere) and Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) and the consequences they face when one if them is indeed, unfaithful. We are introduced to a typical upper middle-class American family, who own their own business, suburban house just outside New York, complete with dog and child, Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan). However all is not well as we soon discover when Connie is literally thrown into the arms of a handsome young French book collector Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez) from Soho.

Connie’s initial attraction leads to a series of phone calls and ‘coffee,’ and it isn’t very long until her attraction to Paul is reciprocated and their affair begins. Connie’s ‘unpredictable’ behaviour arouses suspicion in Edward who begins to suspect that something is wrong. When a fired work colleague mentions to him that he’d better watch out for his own family, (inevitable as someone always catches out the cheating couple in public) Edward hires a private investigator to confirm his suspicions. His rage and jealousy changes their relationship forever with dire consequences.

Adrian Lyne (Director) continues to explore the boundaries of heterosexual relationships with Unfaithful, a theme that he has successfully covered before with 9½ Weeks, Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal and Lolita. Guilt, deception, betrayal, jealousy, obsession and revenge all seem to be consequences of passion, desire and seduction for the characters Lyne depicts, all of which resurface again in Unfaithful. What we are watching is the unravelling of human desire and the consequences of those actions, especially when there is the threat of disturbing the norm, the family/marriage unit. Unfaithful depicts this attempting to show what happens after the raging storm, when one partner has pushed the boundaries too far for love. Can Edward and Connie’s relationship survive or did it ever have a chance to begin with?

Loosely based on Claude Chabrol’s La Femme Infidele, writers Alvin Sargent (Spider-man) and William Broyles, Jr. (Cast Away, Entrapment) explored the consequences of Connie’s infidelity and Edward’s uncontrolled jealousy convincingly. The performances were great all round, in particular Diane Lane who was outstanding as Connie. Lane captures Connie’s conflicting emotions as we witness her struggling between the joy of being with Paul and the despair of her actions after her first sexual experience with him. Richard Gere also provides a better than average performance of the wronged husband who is later revealed as a not so innocent victim overcome by uncontained rage and guilt. Olivier Martinez was an impressive find for Hollywood and played the typical, cliched ‘French lover’ with exceptional charm and charisma. Also in a notable surprise performance was Erik Per Sullivan as Charlie (better known as Dewey from Malcolm in the Middle) whose humour and playfulness on the television series translated well on screen.

What is interesting about Unfaithful is that we get an insight into Connie’s torment between her desire for Paul and her love for Edward and Charlie. What we initially witness, a seemingly ‘happy family,’ slowly begins to unravel as Connie’s dissatisfaction with her life begins to surface, a life that has her mostly confined to getting Charlie ready for school, looking beautiful and running errands all day. It is easy to see why she would fall for Paul who embodies the exact opposite of her family life, routine and predictability, whilst with Paul she experiences excitement, spontaneity and passion. Rather than following the adulterous male point-of-view, as in Fatal Attraction, here we follow the female perspective and gain insight into her character and attempt to understand her actions. Once we shift perspective and follow Edwards trail of suspicion we realise that there lies a lot more betrayal and guilt than what Connie’s affair caused. Unfaithful takes an interesting turn that will leave many pondering about its ambiguous conclusion. Lyne provides us with another interesting look at infidelity pushing its couple beyond their limits.

Screening on general release