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Friday, May 10, 2002

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Movie Review: "Unfaithful" is a stinker!

(WARNING: The review below of the movie "Unfaithful" contains spoilers. Not that there's much that isn't already spoiled.)

Back on April 21st I attended a free screening of "Unfaithful", which is billed as a steamy suspense thriller starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere. Since the movie opens today, I now feel free to reveal my opinion. I'll put it this way: If you have even the slightest inclination to plunk down $8 (or whatever it is in your locality) for a ticket, I recommend that you instead stuff that money into your garbage disposal and grind it up; you'll still come out ahead.

I only wish that the writers had shoved their script into a garbage disposal before the movie was shot. Or, come to think of it, maybe they did.

Here's the gist [SPOILER WARNING REMINDER]: A perfectly happy family lives in suburbia near New York. The middle-aged husband and wife (Gere and Lane) love each other, have an adorable son, both lead active and fulfilling lives, and are financially well off. Then the wife (literally) bumps into an extremely handsome, young French book dealer (played by Olivier Martinez). She is willingly seduced by the young stud (which turns out to be standard operating procedure for him) and soon can't get enough of him. There are lots of graphic sex scenes. She lies to her husband; he suspects and has her followed by a private investigator; he confronts her lover and semi-accidentally kills the guy; he tries to cover it up; the police suspect but can't prove anything; the wife finds out what he did; and in a spasm of conscience he turns himself in to the police.

That's it. There's no real suspense. The plot moves at a glacial pace. The characters do stupid things for no good reasons. Instead of caring about the main characters, you just kind of feel soiled and embarrassed by them, and vaguely apprehensive about what mistakes they'll make next.

Even the sex scenes seem to have the opposite of their intended effect. (It should go without saying that this is not a movie to see if you are the least bit prudish about sex.) There's never even a pretense of justification. The husband appears to be a flawless person, loving and handsome and fun to be with, and someone whom she in turn loves. Nor is her affair a one-time mistake (as in the movie "Fatal Attraction"). She acts like she's addicted to the Frenchman, and he simply makes himself available to her because it would be out of character for him not to.

As the movie dragged on and on, my thoughts soon changed from "What is the point of this?" to "How much longer until it's over?".

Was there anything good in the movie? Well, the 8-year-old son, played by Erik Per Sullivan, was very cute. He was also mostly irrelevant. The main actors did a fairly decent job of acting, given what they had to work with. And the movie trailer was excellent; if that was all I had to go on I might have been fooled into paying cash.

You now have advanced warning. Be wise, and learn from my experience.








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