Unfaithful

on May 08, 2002 by Paul Clinton
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   Adrian Lyne's remake of Chabrol's “La Femme Infidele” isn't as much an examination of an adulterous affair as it is a commercial for it.

   When suburban housewife Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) stumbles into the SoHo loft of a suave French book dealer (Olivier Martinez), Lyne's camera pans across the stacks of meticulously arranged books, a vintage boxing bag and carefully placed statuettes.

   Later, when Richard Gere, as the cuckolded husband, confronts the book dealer, the two exchange polite conversation over chilled vodka. Contrasting these shots with scenes of Connie and her lover banging around the bathroom of a restaurant and the violent finale to the affair, Lyne means to show us the passion lurking below the surface of neatly ordered suburban lives. Yet Lyne's mechanical style doesn't allow much range of emotion into the film, which barely rises above the status of generic potboiler.

   Clearly, this isn't “Damage.”

   Lane gives perhaps the most human performance in the film, as an ordinary woman sleepwalking through her marriage. Lane's “tormented” scenes, including reliving a sexual encounter on the train back to suburbia, register strongest.

   But the script--credited to Alvin Sargent and William Broyles, with doctoring from Stephen Schiff and Susannah Grant--is filled with howlers like, “There's no such thing as a mistake. There's what you do and what you don't do.”

   The movie also asks us to believe that Lane would step out on Gere, who has built a career playing the ladies' man. It would have worked with an actor like David Strathairn, but with Gere, you just never buy it.

   Apparently Lyne, who was given final cut on the film, also decided to stick with the awful, symbolic ending, which you'll only notice if you're still awake at that point. Fox wanted a “heroic, Gary Cooper type of decision” from Gere's character, Lyne has said. They didn't get it. Starring Diane Lane, Richard Gere and Olivier Martinez. Directed by Adrian Lyne. Written by Alvin Sargent and William Broyles Jr. Produced by Adrian Lyne and G. Mac Brown. A Fox release. Drama. Rated R for sexuality, language and a scene of violence. Running time: 123 min

Tags: Diane Lane, Richard Gere, Olivier Martinez, Adrian Lyne, Alvin Sargent, William Broyles Jr., G. Mac Brown, A Fox release, Drama, career, book, sleepwalking, tormented, sexual
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