I love this genre of film! Erotic thrillers/dramas are probably my second favorite type of film to watch. If done well, they can offer up thrills spurred on by something very real. These thrills are not due to something supernatural or impossible and will start often times with an extramarital affair. That makes them both more real and relatable because something like that can easily happen. Unfaithful is a very well put together erotic thriller that achieves what it sets out to and more. A lot of the success is thanks to the fantastic cast members, who all give terrific performances, and to the interesting script.
Diane Lane stars as Constance, a suburban wife and mother. She accidentally runs into a man (Oliver Martinez) who helps her after she hurts her knee, and starts up a sizzling affair with him. She starts to come up with excuses to go see him, even avoiding having lunch with her husband by saying she has a salon appointment. Not only does she do that but she also avoids any type of intimacy with her husband (played by Richard Gere), which makes him feel like something is going on. Because of her husband’s suspicions, he hires a private investigator to follow his wife during the day and see what she’s up to. If all this sounds interesting, you’re right it is, but what makes this an exceptional erotic thriller/drama?
Diane Lane gives what is probably the best performance of her career. She plays this character in a very beautiful way, instead of framing her as this heartless two timing housewife. It would be easy to play this role in that way, but her performance shows how starved she is for intimacy, for a more spiced up sex life. The great thing there is that it shows something that a lot of people can relate to, especially housewives. There’s one scene right after she sleeps with him the first time where her character’s depth is made abundantly clear. This is a wonderfully made sequence where she is riding home on the subway and she’s flashing back to her sexual encounter with him and the expressions on her face say everything. She’s smiling helplessly, obviously having had a need that’s been neglected filled.
The man that plays her lover (Oliver Martinez) is a perfect fit and like Lane, gives a really skilled performance. He fits the typical profile of a sexy/interesting lover that is able to offer a different/exciting experience, as opposed to the hum-drum suburban routine. I don’t want to make his performance seem like a stereotype, he just possesses the characteristics that would entice someone. The sexual chemistry between the two is top notch, the love scenes are beautifully shot, and they both perform them with a rawness that fits. Richard Gere plays his role very well, he really nails the wild off the rails emotion he has to express. He is a man full of anger and jealousy, who is shocked that his wife could abandon/hurt in this way.
What ends up happening as a result of his anger was shocking to me, maybe it wont be to others, but I personally didn’t expect things to go that far. I like that they took it that far though because it raised the stakes to an unbelievably high level. The thriller part kicks in and it’s interesting to see how it all plays out. The final scene is done so well, it may frustrate some because it doesn’t spell everything out clearly as to what exactly happens. Instead of being explicitly clear, it uses symbolism and implies what will come next, which I think is a more clever way to wrap things up.
All in all, Unfaithful is one of my favorite films ever. It achieves exactly what it sets out to achieve and your attention is locked in the whole time.