Unfaithful [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (24th November 2009).
The Film

If there’s one director who has made a career out of unbridled, sexual trysts it would have to be Adrian Lyne. After wooing audiences with his white-hot portrait of unbridled sexuality, “9 ˝ Weeks” (1986), he followed it up with the most disturbing tale of jilted love many can think of, “Fatal Attraction” (1987). In fact, aside from the underrated “Jacob’s Ladder” (1990), just about all of his output has been primarily about unrequited or improper love. As a return to form, having not made a picture since “Lolita” (1997), Lyne decided to remake Claude Chabrol’s “Le Femme Infidčle” (1968), a story about a typical suburban housewife who has an affair with a man from the city after a chance encounter. Were it not for some heavy-handed interference from the studio, Lyne could have turned this into one of his finest films. Instead, the final picture, though still good, comes across as a bit watered-down and typical.

Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) is a perfectly happy housewife and mother who lives in the suburbs with her husband, Ed (Richard Gere), and son, Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan). A particularly windy day in New York City leaves her with a bruised knee and a helping hand in the form of a Frenchman, Paul (Olivier Martinez). Smitten by this unabashed book dealer, Connie begins an affair against her better judgment. But when Ed begins to suspect she is cheating, the situation quickly turns from bad to worse and soon both of their lives are turned upside-down.

First and foremost, I have to praise Richard Gere for his role as Ed, Connie’s doting husband. He slips effortlessly into the role of a husband and father content with his life and his job. Gere’s ability to show the most intricate of reactions reveals just how well Ed knows his wife. As things begin to become more obvious, Ed’s reaction range from slight suspicion to covertly spying to discover the truth of what his wife has been doing. He manages to obscure his total rage at times when it would seem most appropriate to show it. Rather, Ed keeps his fury held within, only allowing it to escape at a moment of total emotional weakness, and one that takes the film in a wholly different, though expected, direction. He loves his wife so much that he does his best to not lose his cool, preferring to do whatever he can to try and fix the situation rather than completely destroy it.

Diane Lane also gives a career-defining performance as Connie. Lane as an actress does a fantastic job struggling between making the right decision to not cheat on her husband and ruin their family, and to live vicariously through herself, experiencing pleasure heretofore unknown. My only real problem is that I never found Paul to be such an enigmatic, charming guy that Connie would be so drawn to him. She seems to be a smart woman who wouldn’t fall for simple pickup tricks, so the fact that all it seems to take is a French accent and a Bohemian apartment seems a bit out of line. But, nevertheless, she attacks the role with her all and we can see she is emotionally drained as the affair drags on. Her efforts here earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, so the acting community obvious noticed her strengths here as well.

As I said, I didn’t find the character of Paul Martel to be a particularly dashing person. It probably doesn’t help that Olivier Martinez seems to be sleepwalking through the role. Aside from the fact that he’s getting as much sex as he can handle from an aging, yet still beautiful, housewife, Paul has virtually nothing exciting to draw women in. It would seem that he gets by simply on a smile and a thick accent, though that may have been Lyne’s intentions. If Paul had been a relatively attractive American male, I don’t think I would have believed that Connie would be so easily seduced by him.

Lyne wanted to treat the affair as arbitrary, and it certainly is. Connie has a loving husband, a dedicated son and a beautiful home. She has no reason to ruin all of that and, yet, she chooses to do so almost on a whim. Her first encounter with Paul could have easily been the last, but the idea that she could have something of her own, something no one but her knows about, was too intriguing for her to pass up. I applaud Lyne for not giving in to studio interference and giving the Sumner’s a dysfunctional marriage; theirs is an ideal life. It indicates that there doesn’t always have to be a problem for someone to stray from what they’ve known. Maybe all it takes is that unknown thought of what could be. People have a desire to be wanted, to feel loved, and even if there already is someone to fill that void the thought of having someone new must’ve been exciting enough to draw her in.

Video

The film’s 1.85:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image is somewhat inconsistent. The picture retains a sharp, high-definition look throughout, but Lyne has injected a hazy veneer into many scenes which reduces the appearance of finer detail and makes the image look smoky at times. Thankfully, facial close-ups look well-defined and sharp at all times. Contrast remains consistent as well, with rich, deep black levels present. These may have been stylistic choices by Lyne, but I think he did the picture a disservice by using overblown lighting at certain times. Scenes that aren’t hampered by haze, however, look solid. There are no signs of DNR or any other post-production tampering or tinkering. I’m sure this image matches precisely what Lyne had in mind, so it succeeds in that regard.

Audio

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track mixed at 48kHz/24-bit wonderfully encapsulates the world in which this film exists. Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s score sounds serene as it’s pumped through all channels, creating a mix that draws viewers deeper into the story. The city scenes that take place in SoHo feature plenty of street sounds to fill out the track, with rears providing some good directionality to keep viewers immersed within the cityscape. The dialogue is always clear and precise, an important point considering many lines are spoken in a hushed, breathless tone that needs to be up-front and understandable. There isn’t much to do for the LFE track, but it does provide some support during a few scenes that require it to support the track. It’s a solid listen, even if there won’t be much here to provide an auditory assault.
French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound tracks are available, and subtitles are available for English for the hearing impaired, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Thai.

Extras

“Unfaithful” saunters onto Blu-ray with a number of intriguing bonus features, including audio commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, interviews, script notes, the film’s theatrical trailer and bonus trailers.

The audio commentary with director Adrian Lyne is brimming with insight on the production of the film. He talks at great length about the shooting locations, editing decisions and character motivations that drive the film. Even the most minute of details that many viewers are likely to overlook have been carefully thought-out by Lyne. A master craftsman, his attention to detail is astounding. He also discusses the problems he had with studio interference, which he feels hampered the finished film.

Scene-specific audio commentary with actors Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez is available for a number of scenes throughout the film. The actors muse on their approach to their characters, on-screen chemistry and provide some anecdotes in this hour-long track.

Deleted scenes are available to watch separately or with the “play all” feature with optional audio commentary by director Adrian Lyne. An audio-only introduction by Lyne precedes the scenes and runs for 50 seconds. The scenes included are:

- “’Night Mom” runs for 1 minute and 6 seconds, Connie tucks Charlie into bed.
- “Chance Meeting” runs for 1 minute and 11 seconds, Connie has another random encounter with Paul.
- “Another Phone Call” runs for 1 minute and 47 seconds, Paul calls Connie at home and Ed seems a little suspicious.
- “At the Movies” runs for 1 minute and 45 seconds, Connie and Paul do a little role playing in the theater.
- “No One There” runs for 1 minute and 12 seconds, Ed answers the phone at home, but gets only dead air.
- “Between Floors” runs for 1 minute and 7 seconds, Ed struggles with Paul’s body while trapped in the elevator.
- “Go Back to Bed” runs for 1 minute and 14 seconds, Ed tells his son to go back to bed when he’s sneaking out to dispose of Paul’s body.
- “Blood-Red Wine” runs for 1 minute and 25 seconds, Ed and Connie host a dinner party.
- “The Detective Calls” runs for 1 minute and 46 seconds, Ed becomes suspicious of a cell phone call Connie takes.
- “Only a Ticket” runs for 40 seconds, Ed and Connie get spooked when a traffic cop tickets their car.
- “The Police Station” runs for 4 minutes and 25 seconds, an alternate take on the film’s ending in front of the police station, but with a more definitive resolution.

“An Affair to Remember: On the Set of Unfaithful” is a featurette which runs for 15 minutes and 49 seconds. Director Adrian Lyne talks about how he was drawn to the source material for the film, "La Femme Infidčle" by Claude Chabrol, over 15 years prior to making this film, and he was reluctant to remake it because he didn’t feel he could do better. But he eventually found inpiration to re-tell the tale and this film was made with respect to the original material with some padding to flesh things out. Actors Diane Lane, Richard Gere and Olivier Martinez discuss their respective characters and their motivations.

“Anne Coats on Editing” is a featurette which runs for 8 minutes and 54 seconds. Coates, the film’s editor, discusses how she approached assembling the final film and what it’s like to work with Adrian Lyne.

Charlie Rose Interview” runs for 18 minutes and 52 seconds. Actors Richard Gere & Diane Lane and director Adrian Lyne sit down with interviewer extraordinaire Charlie Rose to discuss the making of the film.

“A Conversation With…” features three interviews with the principal cast:

- “Richard Gere” runs for 5 minutes and 38 seconds.
- “Diane Lane” runs for 9 minutes and 42 seconds.
- “Olivier Martinez” runs for 7 minutes and 22 seconds.

“Director’s Script Notes” contains a gallery of pages of Adrian Lyne’s notes on key scenes. They include:

- “Morning” contains 19 pages.
- “Meeting” contains 18 pages.
- “Unthinkable” contains 15 pages.

The film’s theatrical trailer runs for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Finally, there is a “Fox on Blu-ray” bonus trailer available for:

- “Deception” runs for 2 minutes and 18 seconds.

There is an Easter Egg outtake (disguised as a small puddle) sandwiched between the "Director’s Script Notes" and the film’s theatrical trailer featuring Erik Per Sullivan sleeping in the back of the car. Adrian Lyne provides a commentary introduction on the scene which runs for 2 minutes and 8 seconds.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: B Audio: B Extras: B+ Overall: B-

 


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