Be happy for a moment. This moment is your life.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

One of the best films I have seen over the past few years was Unfaithful, from the pretty reliable stable of Adrian Lyne. (Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal). A stylish remake of Claude Chabrol's 1968 film La Femme Infidele, the story details the fatal consequences of an affair. Diane Lane and Richard Gere are convincing as the Edward and Connie, a suburban couple who have it all - apart from their desperately irritating son (the usually endearing jug-eared Erik Per Sullivan). Part of this film's charm is the absolute credibility of the affair. OK, you've got Richard Gere keeping you in Martha Stewart style - (so haulage is far from sexy but it clearly pays) - passing perfect clapboard days doing charity work, having facials and choosing cashmere sweaters. So far, no reason to stray.

Then enter Olivier Martinez, words any red-blooded woman would enjoy rolling slowly around on her tongue most days of the week. The tornado imagery is perhaps a little overworked as Connie staggers through SoHo streaming balloons and plastic soccer party bits all over the sidewalk, but as she is blown into the arms of Martinez (Paul, a French book dealer) and into his apartment, the obsession really begins.

For me, the show is stolen by Paul's SoHo apartment, a bibliophile’s fantasy land. Stacked floor to ceiling with tempting antique tomes, arranged in a maze of shelves and interspersed with fascinating global objets d'art, I defy anyone not to be instantly seduced. Connie is, pretty much. She farts about primly for a bit in the face of this exotic European sophistication, but soon she’s hooked and embarks on a fantastically observed sexual awakening.

Edward knows immediately that there’s a rabbit off, even without the clumsily drawn arrow on Connie’s stomach, and Gere captures perfectly the bewildered eyes and winded expression of a man fighting an unseen enemy.

Unseen until he boffs Paul to death with a glass paperweight, that is. A paperweight that Edward gave Connie and which she, with all the forethought of a woman in the thrall of sexual obsession, has blithely given her lover.

The final third of the film doesn’t disappoint. Shared history, family ties and terror all combine to draw husband and wife closer than ever as they try to patch up their once perfect lives and play their roles in a horrific murder investigation. A more ambiguous ending than the original, the final scene haunts and provokes thought in equal measure. Do see this film. Alone, if you want to avoid awkward coversation afterwards.

Why have I come over all Barry Norman? Last night, I watched Nights In Rodanthe, which promised Gere and Lane reprising their on-screen chemistry. Not to the naked eye, they didn’t. Gere smirks, Lane twitches and the whole film is stolen by her stroppy tattooed teenage daughter, sulkily observed by Mae Whitman.

If you can't get Olivier Martinez round tonight, I recommend instead a candlelit bath, good book, Moroccan coffee and this on the stereo. Much safer.


  1. Unfaithful...I think that one's appetite for this film or one's impression of it might change-based on circumstance and context. I could see it again after all these years and probably enjoy it. I couldn't finish it the first go around-too much tragedy-too much damage-too much heartbreak. I was only a year or so out of a marriage and the relationship flaws and human frailties were all too real for me. Even though there wasn't any infidelity in our melange of relationship screw ups, the connection was palpable.

    Thanks so very much and please, to whom and where do I send the payment for the therapy?


  2. Someone I know (who must be referred to as The Pretty One) refused to see the delights of Martinez when we first saw this film because she felt Gere's pain too much.

    Mind you, I wouldn't trust her with a paperweight these days...

    Happy to pass on details of my fabulous therapist, who, surreally, was just featured on the a Best Dressed List.

    There's a match made in heaven.


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