out of 4
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|*Also starring: ||Olivier Martinez, Erik Sullivan, Dominic Chianese, Chad Lowe||
Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4
UNFAITHFUL, by director Adrian Lyne (FATAL ATTRACTION), tells the story of a
middle age housewife named Connie Sumner (Diane Lane), who, one very windy day
in New York, bumps into an irresistible French hunk. The good looking guy, Paul
Martel (Olivier Martinez), is a 29-year-old with the disheveled look and the
constant two-day-old beard that Europeans find so sexy. Within days --
following an affair-by-numbers approach -- they are bumping and grinding in his
apartment, while her 8-year-old (Erik Per Sullivan) is at school and her husband
(Richard Gere) is at work.
In addition to being too long and predictable, the movie's chief problems are
that it's never quite convincing enough to rise to the level of a cautionary
tale, and the sex, with one major exception, is too choreographed for the film
to qualify as a guilty pleasure. The one impressive exception comes when Connie
first crosses the line. As she lies on Paul's bed for the first time, her whole
body quivers in convulsions as if she is both freezing and in the throws of
anticipatory orgasms. Lane pulls this off masterfully. The other sex is so
clichéd -- including sex in a public toilet -- that you expect to see a "sex
choreographer" listed in the credits.
The affair's classical phases are so precisely followed that you feel the rules
must be written in stone somewhere. "I think this thing is a big mistake,"
Connie remarks shortly before hopping into bed with her paramour. After this
comes the time when she's convinced her husband knows, but he doesn't yet. This
is followed by the time when he suspects but isn't sure. She is next almost
caught but isn't. Then she is seen by a friend who doesn't tell. After which
comes the phase in which he's sure but isn't telling her yet. And finally --
drum roll -- the confrontation scene, which is done in a surprisingly fresh way.
Of yes, do you think her lover will prove faithful to her? If you can't answer
that question, then maybe you won't have any problems with the script.
The acting, however, is never a problem, with everyone in the cast giving the
material their all. The overall effect of the movie on you isn't likely to be
sexual titillation or fear of infidelity. It's so overly long that exhaustion
is most likely to be what it produces.
UNFAITHFUL runs too long at 2:05. It is rated R for "sexuality, language and a
scene of violence" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes
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