out of five
: 120 mins
Surprisingly faithful adaptation of a classic French film – well acted and watchable, but it doesn’t quite survive the remake treatment.
The words “Directed by Adrian Lyne” are rarely greeted with a sense of
excitement these days and are most likely to induce thoughts of glossy 1980s shag-fests such as Nine ½ Weeks and Fatal Attraction, or, failing that, his ill-advised remake of Lolita.
Surprisingly, however, Unfaithful turns out, somewhat ironically, to be an extremely faithful remake of Claude Chabrol’s La Femme Infidéle. With, admittedly, a lot more sex in it. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Diane Lane stars as Connie Sumner, a bored housewife married to Richard
Gere’s businessman. While out shopping one windy day, she literally bumps into Olivier Martinez’s designer-stubbled bookseller. She cuts her knee, he fixes it up and soon, lo and behold, they’re at it like rabbits, even to the point of grabbing quickies in café toilets while she’s having coffee with friends. And then Gere accidentally finds out and things go horribly, horribly wrong…
Richard Gere seems to be making a career out of below-par remakes of decent French films, what with this, Breathless, Sommersby and Intersection. Unfortunately, although Unfaithful definitely has its moments, it doesn’t really stand up to the remake treatment – where Chrabrol’s La Femme Infidéle was a scathing comment on the French bourgeoisies, Unfaithful lacks the same edge, mostly because you care too much about all three main characters.
Similarly, scenes that had a distinctly Hitchcockian flavour in Chabrol’s original film (Hitchcock was an acknowledged influence) are rendered unintentionally laughable here, despite being identical to their source.
Ultimately, the film fails to make the same point that the original does – the fact that it takes a violent act to resuscitate the marriage – and therefore loses much of its impact.
Still, that’s not to say that the film isn’t enjoyable in its own right. The acting is extremely good, with Lane definitely the standout – here’s hoping she starts getting more A-list roles in future. Martinez is also impressive – he and Lane have definite chemistry together, which always helps in this sort of thing.
As for the sex-scenes themselves, they occasionally suffer from Jumping
Bra-Strap Syndrome (sack your continuity-person, Adrian), but are otherwise tastefully handled and, yes, even rather erotic.
In short, Unfaithful is watchable and well acted, though it may suffer from the inability to make the same points as effectively as the original film. Oh yes, and it’s got ‘Dewey’ from Malcolm In The Middle in it, as Lane and Gere’s son.