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"Unfaithful"

Directed by Adrian Lyne.
Written by Alvin Sargent and William Broyles Jr.
Starring Richard Gere, Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  5/13/02
 

Folks-- 

When I first saw the trailer for “Unfaithful” a couple of months ago, I had to admit it to myself—

This might actually be a GOOD Richard Gere movie!

See, usually, I think Richard Gere movies blow.  In the last ten years, the only one that I have really liked is “Primal Fear”...and, even then, Edward Norton’s rookie performance makes the whole movie anyway.  Some of Gere’s other “highlights” include “Red Corner”, the shitty remake “The Jackal”, “Dr. T and the Women”...ugh, did I forget “First Knight”?

Exactly.  But, “Unfaithful” is money in the bank.  Gere plays Edward Sumner, the president of a security truck firm, married father of an 8-year-old...and, faithful to his wife of 11 years, Constance (Diane Lane).  One windy spring day, Constance gets hurt on the streets of Soho by accidentally colliding with a book dealer named Paul (Olivier Martinez) that happens to be ridiculously handsome.  After cleansing her wounds at the dealer’s apartment, she makes one visit after another to Paul’s apartment...and, an affair begins.  What Constance doesn’t know is that Edward suspects something is not right with her demeanor.

I think I was in the mood for something like this film; brought to us by Adrian Lyne, the director of “Fatal Attraction”, “Unfaithful” pushes a lot of buttons as Constance delves deeper and deeper into her mostly-sexual relationship with Paul, and how it adversely affects the family that she claims to care for so much.  From his past work, I have always felt that if you give Gere the ball with a great script and great direction, he can really be something special.  Unlike other movie stars that aren’t the greatest of acting talents, Gere rarely lifts himself above mediocre material, preferring instead to be smug and handsome and collect the paycheck.  Here, because of the depth of his character, he is able to show us a little more than just that world-famous smile.

The real star turn in “Unfaithful”, though, belongs to Lane, who has been in mostly bad-to-average films (including one of the films in the Bellview Hall of Shame, “Judge Dredd”) before this one but is just damned good in this film.  Of course, the whole film revolves around her character, so I guess she had to be halfway-decent for it to work...but, like Halle Berry’s performance in “Monster’s Ball”, she gets to show the whole range of emotions, and she showed me about fourteen different ways to cry in “Unfaithful”, which may be a new record!  Seriously, though, there is a moment in “Unfaithful” where she is reminiscing over her first sexual encounter with Paul, and she does the “half crying, half laughing” bit better than anyone I have ever seen.  Luckily for her, she doesn’t mind doing sex scenes, since Lyne throws her into bed (or, hallways, or bathroom stalls) with Martinez more than a couple times.

Martinez is pretty good here, and it is easy to believe that he is the kind of guy that could win over a woman in about four seconds; there is a funny scene where a couple of women sitting in a coffee shop eye Martinez’s character from across the shop and talk about how quickly they would fall into bed with someone so handsome...and, you believe it in a heartbeat.  There isn’t much other support in the film since it is essentially a three-character arc.  But, the film is very well shot, features a few of amusing moments but not too many for a drama of this variety, and a couple of good, not overly shocking, surprises to keep the story moving along.  And, I really liked its ending...for reasons that I can’t give away here!

I walked out of the theater today and all I could say was, “Damn, I liked that film a lot.”  It’s the kind of film that has a couple of those “Mmm!!” moments when you are watching, because you try and match up what is happening in the film to your own dating or married life, or just to real life, and you shake your head in pity for some of the people involved.  If you can’t get into that first showing of “Star Wars” this weekend, check this one out...I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Rating:  Opening Weekend

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09