This is a story of obsession, betrayal, and jealousy, based on Claude Chabrol’s “La Femme Infidel.” It is about a happily married couple who seem to have everything until the wife is drawn into an affair. It is not for kids, but some adults will consider it a worthwhile portrayal of emotional suspense, told with director Adrian Lyne’s characteristic visual flair. It’s a shocker, so read no further if you don’t want hints of what is to come.
Richard Gere and Diane Lane play Edward and Connie, a couple thoroughly enmeshed in married life. He manages a fleet of armored cars (metaphor alert!), and she stays at home, looking after their precocious son (Erik Per Sullivan, “Dewie” on TV’s “Malcom in the Middle”) and doing charity work. One day, in the city to hunt down some items for the school auction, Connie is literally thrown into the arms of seductive Frenchman Paul (Oliver Martinez). He’s young and charming, and while their first meeting comes to nothing, she can’t stay away.
None of the plot elements are novel, but the seduction is handled very smoothly, without a lot of the emotional short-hand that would leave the story hollow. In fact, the strength of this film is its very down to earth emotional perceptiveness. Paul may be a polished Lothario, but even he can’t help but champ at the bit while preparing coffee for the lovely Connie, scalding himself and leaping around coltishly. When Connie shows up at the office unexpectedly (after an assignation), Edward is just as jumpy, mugging around in an inside-out sweater while his wife suspects every word he says. The movie makes us constantly aware of the currents of affection that run between the characters.
Back at home, Edward knows something is wrong. As his wife primps in private and shies away from his advances, his suspicions mount. Finally, after Connie is spotted in a restaurant with Paul, he cannot avoid the truth. A private detective produces all the details, and Edward goes, broken- hearted, to the apartment of his rival.
The best scene in the film is this confrontation. Neither knows exactly what to do, and it’s in this strange emotional limbo that a tragic choice is made.
Parents should know that this film contains a number of elements which may be upsetting to children. The theme of infidelity runs through the movie, and it creates some tense scenes of home-life. Connie’s seduction is quite overwhelming, and the sex scenes are intense and graphic. There is also a violent scene that results in murder.
Families who see this movie will want to discuss the title. The film is symmetrical–the wife is unfaithful in the first half, the husband in the second. To whom is the husband unfaithful? What “happens” in their final conversation? What is forgivable?
Families who enjoyed this movie will also enjoy the movie that inspired it, “La Femme Infidel,” the recent hide-the body thriller “The Deep End,” and the same director’s “Fatal Attraction.”