The Sumners, Edward (Richard Gere) and Connie (Diane Lane) live with their 9 year old son, a housekeeper and a dog in the outer suburbs. He runs a business, she runs errands and upmarket fundraisers. Ordinary. One day in Soho, she literally falls for Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez), a young French book dealer, during a New York wind storm. Drawn to Paul, Connie begins a reluctant but passionate affair, even though she loves her husband and her family intensely. Edward begins to sense something and inevitably, finds out; the repercussions are shattering and tragic, leaving everyone badly damaged, or worse. Can anything be salvaged?
Review by Louise Keller:
An intense and compelling thriller, Unfaithful is equally enticing at home on DVD, where the experience is even more intimate. In the deft hands of director Adrian Lyne, who has been exploring sexual obsession from different angles throughout his distinguished career, in such works as Fatal Attraction, 9 ˝ weeks, Indecent Proposal and Lolita, we can be assured of an intense experience.
Taking its genesis from master New Wave French director Claude Chabrol’s La Femme Infidele, Unfaithful is a potent, character-driven story that is perfectly cast – loving husband with perfect wife who is seduced by enigmatic, charming Frenchman in a chance encounter. In addition to the three central characters, music plays a key role, adding a mellow, thoughtful yet provocative flavour to the mix.
The juxtaposition of using beautiful, calm melodic passages while emotional turmoil is rife is a powerful tool indeed, adding a restrained edginess. The role of Connie for Diane Lane is not so far removed than that of her acclaimed Pearl, in A Walk on the Moon. Lane revels in the role, shimmering like an innocent in the flush of first love.
Olivier Martinez is suitably sensual, and we girls (at least) understand the appeal of this mystery man whose flirtations appear as natural as the wind. But the revelation is Richard Gere, whose ‘ordinary’ husband is so un-Gere like, that his performance from subdued to beyond his comfort zone to the heights of passion, is a work of art. Through Gere’s Edward, we understand the boundaries of the Sumners’ lives, and genuinely ache for him as he senses the tell-tale signs and changes in his wife from the very beginning.
Although at first glance, the theme may suggest parallels with films of female infidelity, for me, there are greater resonances here with films such In the Bedroom and The Deep End, whose revelations come more from the intensity evoked by events. Everything works – from the script, to raising issues for which there are no easy answers.
The only special features comprise two deleted scenes, without commentary, hence falling rather flat and inconsequential. The first is set in an almost empty movie theatre, where Connie is watching a French black and white movie. Paul appears with a huge box of popcorn and asks if the seat next to Connie is taken? She mischievously says yes, so he then asks if the seat on the other side is free. The scene becomes another steamy sexual encounter. The second scene is very short and it’s easy to see why it was left out.
Unfaithful is a gripping and perceptive film that shreds the layers of superficiality. It’s an engrossing look at human behaviour and emotional response. Don’t miss it!
Published December 19, 2002
NOTE: Retail release - March 19, 2003, DVD is available with commentaries, alternate ending, Deleted scenes, (An Affair to Remember) - on the set of, Anne Coates on editing, Charlie Rose interview, conversations with Diane Lane, Richard Gere, Olivier Martinez, director's script notes and trailer. Distributor: Fox Entertainment
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CAST: Diane Lane, Richard Gere, Olivier Martinez
DIRECTOR: Adrian Lyne
RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16 X 9
SPECIAL FEATURES: Scene Access, Deleted Scenes
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: December 18, 2002