Big Fat Liar

Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Olivier Martinez.
Directed by Adrian Lyne.
Running Time: 125 mins
Rated: MA 15+
The director of Unfaithful is Adrian Lyne. He made Fatal Attraction and this present film is a close relative of that one.

Edward (Gere) and Connie Sumner (Lane) appear to have a happy marriage. They are financially secure, loving parents and faithful to each other. That is until, on a windswept day in New York, Connie meets Paul (Martinez) and she begins to have an affair with him. Edward becomes suspicious and it all ends in tears.

Adrian Lyne has had great success with erotic thrillers. As well as Fatal Attraction, he directed Indecent Proposal and the most recent version of Lolita. The content of these films will be enough for some people to know that Unfaithful is not for them.

Lyne tries to convince us that suburban boredom is the main reason for Connie's infidelity. The problem is that she seems both mentally stable and happy until her chance meeting with Paul. The set-up of her character's motivation is crucial to the story and Lyne fails to deliver. At no stage do we see a bored Connie at home who could then risk everything for an adulterous affair. Quite the opposite. She has a great child, a caring husband and a good job. Rather than evoke sympathy, Connie appears capricious.

It gets worse. The longer the story goes on the more unbelievable it becomes. At one critical moment, for example, when Edward is trying to catch Connie in Paul's apartment there are coincidences galore: Edward, who has been stalking the building for hours, turns his head as Connie leaves the building; when Edward wants to get into the locked building an elderly resident just so happens to be coming out and accommodatingly opens the door for him, letting a keyless stranger into his apartment block; later, the building's lift gets stuck between floors and Edward is nearly exposed; finally, while carrying a precious cargo in the boot of his car, another driver ploughs into the back of him. This is all possible, but these ridiculous coincidences look more like the work of a lazy writer trying to inject some drama into a lost story.

What Lyne is good at is composing his shots. The cinematography and editing in this film is very fine indeed.

Ultimately Unfaithful says nothing new in any way that makes it stand out from the pack.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

Richard Leonard SJ

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