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Connie Sumner has a loving husband, a beautiful home, and a wonderful son, but she wants more. When she's approached one day by a handsome stranger while trying to hail a taxi, she becomes obsessed with him and eventually starts an affair. But her selfish actions soon catch up with her... Written by
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Wait. Wait a minute. You're telling me about family? Well, you don't know the first goddamn thing about it. Why don't you take a look at your own fucking family, Ed? Take a goddamn look at that.
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There is no such thing as an indifferent movie directed by Adrian Lyne. You'll either love it or hate it.
I liked "Fatal Attraction" though I prefer the original ending, not the revised, way-over-the-top, grade B shock ending. I was not impressed with his other hit "Flashdance". (I've chosen not to see "9 1/2 Weeks" and "Indecent Proposal" for various reasons.)
Many viewers have said that "Unfaithful" is simply a role reversal of Lyne's earlier hit "Fatal Attraction". It might be accurate but I don't think it's totally a fair comparison.
I felt that the affair between Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) and Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez) was just a basic physical attraction. It was a need that, for some reason, was not met with her husband. At the same time, the affair became more of an addiction for Connie. There's no love at all in that relationship. There is love between Connie and Edward (Richard Gere) but from what is presented on the screen, their love is on low tide. They certainly took each other for granted.
What impressed me the most about "Unfaithful" was that director Lyne and screenwriters Alvin Sargent & William Broyles, Jr. (adapted from Claude Chabrol's "La Femme Infidèle") did not shy away from the consequences of having an affair. There was no easy out for Connie and Edward and no tidy endings.
Gere was O.K. That's not to say he was bad. He didn't impress me very much. It was odd but rather interesting to see him play this rather drab, nerdy character. Something to consider: if the movie was remade in the late 70s or early 80s, Gere definitely would've played the other man.
I was angry at Connie for having an affair and betraying her family. I also felt some sympathy toward her: She was not a bad person. She's basically a good person who made some very bad choices.
One sequence that stood out for me (and apparently for many others) was when Connie is on the commuter train heading back home after her second encounter with Paul. Her facial expressions are so subtle but also tells more about what's going on with her with no dialog. The reactions range from excitement to anger to resignation to fear.
(In the Special Features section of the DVD, check out the interview with veteran film editor Anne V. Coates. She brings an interesting perspective on how she was able to edit the sequence.)
Diane Lane has received many well-deserved accolades for her performance. It's perhaps her best adult performance in her career which started in 1979 when she was just 14 in the wonderful comedy/drama "A Little Romance".
"Unfaithful" has a few weaknesses but luckily they are overshadowed by the film's many strengths, especially Diane Lane.
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