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Unfaithful (2002)

Directed by Adrian Lyne Written by William Broyles Jr. & Alvin Sargent

Now, if one hadn’t heard of The Good Girl, it may have been because you were only aware of its ‘upper class’ version with this gem in Adrian Lyne’s already plentiful collection. Having watched the French version (more or less) entitled La Femme Infidele written by Claude Chabrol, Lyne found it perfection and decided to mirror it, loosely basing a film where he would show more of the affair and change the last act all together. Following happily married (for 11 years) couple Edward (Richard Gere) and Connie (Diane Lane) Summer who had one son; Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan). Seemingly having anything any married couple could hope for on the surface. Yet time and a string of coincidences bringing about truths both never knew capable of obtaining.

Initially meeting on a whim on no particular day in New York. A hard wind brought Connie right into Frenchmen Paul’s (Olivier Martinez) arms; a book dealer whose magnetic charm captivated her within moments. Watching him fight the wind in an attempt to catch a cab, they share a laugh at him failing miserably. Offering a quick fix upstairs and out of the weather, the two exchange in a bit of harmless flirting (if ever such a thing) before he offers her a book, knowing just which one to give so as to quote along with: “Be happy for this moment, this moment…is your life.”

Rushing to find her way back home, she mentions the young man who was kind enough to lend a hand, gloating a bit whilst on the bed. Later that night romancing her husband yet, unable to get Paul out of her mind by the next day. Going into the city as she toyed with the idea of calling him again, finally able to do so and agree to meet for some…coffee. Despite the cup already in her hand. Subtle touches and brief hand holding leads Connie to once again rush off, buying a gift out of guilt for her husband, starting in on the lies regarding her soon to be affair. Lost in thought while we catch her within another interaction, one filled with endless passion and regret as we merely glimpse the act itself, shown more of her reaction on the train ride home. Her body filled with an overload of emotion from the sensations just experienced. Her husband, knowing something was wrong from the very beginning. For as the affair begins in full motion, Connie finds herself managing a life at home and one in the city a bit too well. Daring to go out in public and doing whatever could to ensure the possibility of spending time with her lover.

With things at home beginning to fade away; her mind otherwise preoccupied, forgetting her son at school, barely able to handle making dinner. Her husbands answer is to hire an old acquaintance to spy on her, wanting to know the cause of her newly found behavior. Meeting to hear all the gritty details about the new man in her life, as emotions soon catch up to his wife. Seeing Paul out with another girl allows a dose of reality to kick in as her marriage is thrown back in her face before committing the adulterous act once again. Just barely missing her husband who had decided to confront the man brave enough to impede in on a marriage. A brief brigade of questioning heats up as Edward soon finds a snow globe having given to his wife, using the object to come crashing down on Paul’s skull, inhibitions long gone by this point. Finding himself running late for his sons play as he goes into panic mode, cleaning and erasing what could from the apartment. Straining himself just to get the body out of the building. The discovery made days later as Police investigated both Sumner’s, inquiring as to why her number had been in his place. Stories falling in line rather easily as Edward is quick to abide by whatever Connie’s claims are. Not until the two have a small dinner party that she’s able to notice the very same snow globe back in its place, a slight confrontation bringing about raw emotion from her husband who had been forced to remain silent this entire time.

The simplicity of the films momentum unravels as the stillness of the scenes silence everything but the remarkable journey brought before you. There being no justification for the act itself, Paul simply being the bit of excitement needed after eleven years of being a housewife. Everything she would never have again and the voice that spoke for her when failing to hold any confidence to say yes. A mere twist of fate that could have all been avoided, as we catch a glimpse in the few moments before the transition to the end, on what could have been. Edward and Connie, forced to live with each other’s secret for the rest of their lives, know how it would eat away at them. Unsure of a next move to make, the ending is played to not only create your own ending but decipher whether in the end, it was really worth coming forward about to the other. The fact that Richard and Diane had a 18-year friendship no doubt assisted in the amount of comfort having to put into one another for a script like this. Oliver did his part, as small as it may seem in the scheme of things, by remaining as irresistible as he came forth onscreen. His relentlessness attitude, while holding onto a small secret himself, was alluring and seductive. Making their indiscretion all the more gripping the longer they tested the boundaries. Knowing in your mind there could only be one conclusion however left with the question of how far one would/should go in order to protect their own family.