UNFAITHFUL

Directed by Adrian Lynne. USA. 2002.


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I am that girl who knows. I’m the one you turn to when you’ve forgotten the name of that movie you’ve just seen. “Jen,” you say, “what’s the name of that one? You know, the one with the guy? With the hair? He falls in love with the girl? Then they fight and get back together again at the end? What’s that called?” (The sad part is that I generally know the answer.)

I’m the one you turn to when you’re trying to decide what to spend your cinema going dollars on. “Jen,” you say, “what’s out there now that’s good?” “Well,” I reply cautiously, “what kind of movie do you like?” “Oh....” you say making my job much easier, “anything. As long as it’s good.” In the hopes of helping everyone with their future film selections, allow me to give away my cardinal rule of choosing a good one:

Never trust anything you see on a movie poster.

These posters are paid for by the multi-zillion dollar entertainment industry to entice the cinema going public to their particular product, and the entertainment industry does not wish to see posters emblazoned with slogans like:
 

Unfaithful: Don’t Bother
 
So, instead what you get is a poster covered with shots of Diane Lane’s legs, Richard Gere looking morose, and Olivier Martinez’ biologically improbable stomach. It’s festooned with captions like “.....Exhilarating!!!” and “The best thriller so far this year!!!” 

This could possibly be the best example of an open and shut case of false advertising that I have ever seen.

Unfaithful. All Rights Reserved.Unfaithful tells the story of Ed and Connie Sumner. They have the perfect life. They’re successful, they’re happy. Obliviously happy it would seem, for a chance encounter with a handsome bookseller, leads Connie to make the biggest mistake of her life. (HINT: The title may give something away on that front.)

Diane Lane (Chaplin, Murder at 1600) stars as the housewife who wants something more. Her’s (in my opinion) is the only performance in this film worth watching. Her portrayal of Connie is a picture perfect portrait of guilt. She lets insecurities show through that give the struggling couple a very nice interplay, showing just how distant those sorts of emotions can make you feel from someone. You see her feeling terrible for passions never acted upon. Her big stumbling block is the script. Her motivations for the affair are never explained thoroughly. Her husband seems a very caring man. Connie’s betrayal of him with another man only makes her character unlikeable.

Unfaithful. All Rights Reserved.Richard Gere (Officer and a Gentleman, First Knight) plays the husband scorned. Oddly, his turn plays as the most natural in the entire film. If he weren’t so wholly unsympathetic I would have quite enjoyed his performance as well. Not once in this movie does Gere allow his character to get angry, he plays him as totally meek. To a point that sort of embodiment works, but after a time, it grates on your nerves, becoming less of an “Awwwww, look at him trying to save his marriage,” and more of a “Why isn’t he doing something about the problems between his wife and himself?” While Gere does attempt to epitomize the truism that sometimes it takes a kick in the teeth to see what’s truly valuable in your life, the road he chooses to take to do it makes the audience dread his every appearance on screen. No one likes to get whined at for a solid 90 minutes.

Adrian Lynne (director) is by far my favourite commander of unintentional comedies. Don’t get me wrong, he is a master of giving his stories thrust (fans of his work, please pardon the pun) it’s merely that his casting directors have been, and always will be dorks. Take Fatal Attraction. I have talked with an extensive number of guys about this film and the synopsis of their commentary has always been that the thought of anyone cheating on Anne Archer is utterly implausible. I’ve been involved in a lot of conversations about Indecent Proposal, and the basic thought has always been something along the lines of “On what planet would Robert Redford need to pay for women to throw themselves at him?” Here those casting directors have done a bit of a better job, (for me at least. I can totally find the thought of someone cheating on Richard Gere to be plausible) but their good efforts, have been knocked senseless by the script. The story has no impact, none of the characters are engaging, and the ending is absolutely horrid. A must miss.
 

Jen Johnston
 
 
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