When is right wrong? Or wrong right? These questions face Edward (Richard Gere) and Connie (Diane Lane), a husband and wife in Unfaithful. Director Adrian Lyne revisits the idea of infidelity, a theme he did so well in Fatal Attraction, but he gives the audience a different scenario in this new film.
Happily married, Connie and Edward live in suburbia with their eight-year-old son (Erik Per Sullivan). Edward has a successful job, and Connie spends her days doing charity work. Even after nine years, the two seem passionate, attentive and thoughtful to each other. But when Connie is injured during a windstorm, Paul (Olivier Martinez), a mysterious and seductive Frenchman comes to her aid, and they begin an affair.
Edward, being an average husband, doesn’t take very long to spot his wife’s irregular behavior. He begins asking questions, then hires a detective, and finally discovers the other man. Gere found the aspects of this story compelling. "It was a very textured, very intimate script that was not only interesting, but disturbing to me," he said. "You can’t get started on a project unless that mystery and disturbance are there somewhere – an itch that you’ve got to give the time and energy to figure out."
Not only does Lane look sensational, she also finds the perfect qualities to play the guilty wife. Connie is obsessed, driven and uninhibited in her sexual liaison with Paul, yet unsure why she risks everything when she already has what she wants in life. This is not the first time Lane has played an unfaithful spouse. For her engrossing portrayal of a similar character in Tony Goldwyn’s A Walk on the Moon, she earned a Best Actress Spirit Award.
"To some degree we’re all touched by this human flaw of the wandering eye . . . We go through changes, and you don’t always realize that until something sparks you to see yourself in a different light," said Lane. "That’s what makes Connie vulnerable."
Olivier Martinez has no problem making any woman vulnerable. Check out his spellbinding work with Juliette Binoche in Horseman On The Roof (1995). In Unfaithful, Martinez easily captures his character, giving Paul the demeanor of a free, uncomplicated but somewhat mysterious man who enjoys the games he plays.
"Paul is an innocent," explained Martinez. "He doesn’t know what’s going to happen, and he has no control over his future."
Because of its complexities and strong performances, Unfaithful was quite intriguing to me. Still, it suffers slightly from slow pacing in parts, and its biggest disappointment involves the ending – which isn’t there. The viewer is left to decide how everything turns out. Frankly, if I’m going to write my own ending, then I want the big bucks paid to the screenwriter who should have done it in the first place.
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated "R" for sexuality, language and a scene of violence.)