Unfaithful was directed by Adrian Lyne, whos known for such sexually provocative films as 9 ½ Weeks and Fatal Attraction. Coming from a background in commercials and having directed fluff like Flashdance hes also known as someone more adept at getting under the covers than getting under a characters skin.
Richard Gere and Diane Lane star as a wealthy married couple living with their young son in the suburbs outside New York City. Their life has become too comfortable for Ms. Lanes Connie Sumner, who finds herself drawn inch by inch toward the younger, womanizing Paul, played by Olivier Martinez.
Im a long time admirer of Ms. Lane. From some of her earliest work when she was still a teenager in films like The Outsiders and Rumblefish to the recent A Walk On the Moon Ive liked just about everything shes done. Lately instead of the ingenue shes found herself cast as the more mature, chaste woman. The kind who doesnt give off the sort of sexual sparks she once did, at least not until she is seduced by the wily Frenchman, Paul.
When eventually they do come together, look out. Its exciting to watch her as Connie goes from a conservative soccer mom to a woman of sexual abandon, having wild sex in public bathrooms and hallways. She makes the transition believable while maintaining the viewers empathy.
For all his shortcomings the director has always shown himself to be an expert at capturing incredibly erotic scenes. In fact many of the sex scenes from 9 ½ Weeks and Fatal Attraction were some of the most talked about in modern film. Once again he succeeds, capturing the raw, carnal lust between Connie and Paul as their affair comes to a full boil.
Ms. Lanes co-star Richard Gere has had one of the most uneven film careers I can think of. Hes been appearing in films for nearly twenty-five years but the last great performance I can remember him in was An Officer and a Gentleman, over twenty years ago. Despite his lack of critical success hes had decent box office success and continues to work regularly. Like his co-star he too has evolved. Instead of the guy who nabs Julia Roberts hes now the guy Diane Lane cheats on, which despite the paycheck would hurt anyones ego. To his credit he delivers a heartfelt performance. Hes particularly good in the scene where he confronts his wifes lover.
Ultimately though Unfaithful left me unsatisfied. Both characters are outwardly good people who make very unethical choices yet they never address these choices and the film ends abruptly. Despite some erotic scenery and emotional confrontations, in the end I felt cheated on. Im Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.
© 2002 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 5/15/02
USA - 2002