Unfaithful (2002)

Year

Certificate

15

Length

124 mins

Genre

Director

Rating

  3/53/53/53/53/5

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Diane Lane has Sex in the City

There is no such thing as a mistake. There are things you do, and things you don't do - Paul Martel

Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez in Unfaithful

If you were to believe the quote which graces the back of the "Unfaithful" DVD that states "a steamy and erotic thriller about sexual passion so intense, it consumes everything" then the chances are you're not going to be 100% satisfied. The reason being is that whilst for the first half "Unfaithful" is in deed quite erotic and features Diane Lane in various sex scenes it never once approaches being a tense thriller, playing more like a rather flat drama than anything close to attaining suspense and excitement.

Connie Summer (Diane Lane - The Glass House) is the wife of successful businessman Ed (Richard Gere - Autumn in New York) and mother to Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan), a seemingly perfect family. But on a trip into New York Connie accidentally bumps into book seller Paul (Olivier Martinez - S.W.A.T.) and becomes obsessed with his foreign charms. Soon her obsession turns into a steamy affair with disastrous consequences.

"Unfaithful" starts well setting the scene of the Summer family's idyllic life in the burbs and although no real back story is built for any of the main characters the movie progresses well. All the signs are there and you know exactly what to expect as the build up works in gaining your interest. The initial meeting between Connie and Paul oozes sexual tension and you know exactly where the brief encounter will eventually lead.

Erik Per Sullivan as Charlie in Unfaithful

But having worked so hard to build up the sexy side of "Unfaithful" it all goes horribly wrong with tension replaced by dull drama only spiced up by the sex scenes. Thankfully it's not as blatantly cheap as say "Body of Evidence" but with a good cast and a predictable but interesting plot it still fails to completely live up to expectations.

Part of my issue with "Unfaithful" is that for well over half of the movie the focus of the proceedings is firmly set on the affair between Connie and Paul. At times this works well and there are a few moments of inspired tension, the scene when they first have sex is a good example of how to make a sex scene captivating for the right reasons as it oozes with thrill and risk. But then all too often it relies on ignoring the emotional build up and going for the almost in your face sex scenes. Now I am not opposed to erotic thrillers, especially those which show a balance between the two elements but "Unfaithful" seems to rely a little too heavily on sex and occasionally gets close to the edge with the various sex scenes.

But the main issue I have with "Unfaithful" is the only thing thrilling about it is the sex. When the affair causes a set of disastrous consequences there is no real build up, no scenes of high tension and very little realistic drama. Realism is a big issue here as when things start to spiral out of control "Unfaithful" becomes very unrealistic and areas which needed a greater build up are skipped over fleetingly. Without wanting to be overly critical I get a sense that having shot all the erotic scenes for the first half, director Adrian Lyne, threw in the towel knowing that no one would watch "Unfaithful" for anything but the sex.

As such the only really good thing about "Unfaithful" is Diane Lane who gets better every time I watch her. Yes there are the Diane Lane sex scenes and those which see her naked but it's not all about the naked flesh and sex as you do get a real sense in the early scenes that when she contemplates the affair she struggles with it. In quite a strange way you start to feel for Connie despite the fact it's her willingness to be unfaithful that causes all the issues and you get a sense that whilst in turmoil over her emotions becomes almost addicted to having sex with Paul, filling a gap in her almost perfect but routine life. A lot of this is down to Lane's likeability and out of all the stars she is the only one I would say actually plays her part well.

The total opposite could be said about Richard Gere's performance as her husband Ed, as there was no Richard Gere magic at all on show in "Unfaithful". Now yes the part of Ed is mostly overshadowed by that of Connie, but it could quite literally have been anyone playing this role and for the most Gere fades into the background, failing to provide any real drama when scenes start to shift towards him. Maybe he was underserved by the screen play, maybe he was disappointed by his limited scenes, whatever the reason Richard Gere fails to make the impact you would expect.

As for Olivier Matrinez as Paul the object of Connie's passion. Well yes he has the sexy accent, the eyes, the body etc etc and is such a stereotypical lothario that at times everything he does becomes all a little bit cliche. I would say the cliche issue is more to do with the fact that "Unfaithful" is directed by Adrian Lyne who has a track record of directing erotic thrillers such as "Nine 1/2 Weeks", "Fatal Attraction" and "Indecent Proposal". Lyne certainly stamps his mark on the movie, but then at a times a scene in "Unfaithful" feels all to like one from another of his movies and all becomes a little too familiar.

What this all boils down to is that "Unfaithful" could have been much more than it turned out to be, it could have been a sultry thriller full of sexual tension and suspense rather than a cross between "Fatal Attraction" and "Body of Evidence". The only plausible reason to watch it, other than for the ample sex scenes and naked flesh, is that Diane Lane puts in a good performance.