|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Friday, 30 January 2009|
“Unfaithful” attempts to combine a love triangle affair with murder and deception. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work in this film. When watched, it feels like two distinct films placed back to back. The first half or two-thirds is about Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) and her affair with Paul (Olivier Martinez). The second part deals with Connie’s husband, Edward (Richard Gere) learning about his wife’s betrayal and the actions he takes.
Diane Lane delivers a fantastic performance. Of course I am biased, as she is one of my favorite actresses of all-time. She puts it all out there in this film. Her emotional rollercoaster is heart-wrenching and draining. The holes in her character seem to be created due to holes in the story and script and not in her acting.
Richard Gere is rather bland in the film. He has a rather powerful scene when he comforts Paul, his wife’s lover. The rest of his acting is again lacking due to a so-so script. Both Gere and Lane have great chemistry onscreen, despite the fact that they had to act lack their chemistry was missing due to her affair. I have yet to have a chance to see “Nights in Rodanthe,” however that film reunites Lane and Gere in a romantic drama. It should be interesting.
English director, Adrian Lyne did a so-so job with this film, which might explain why he has not done much work since. Lyne began his career with “Flashdance” in 1983. In 1986 he directed “9 ½ Weeks” which is why he was selected to direct “Unfaithful.” The films are similar. The affair between Martinez and Lane is seductive and at times erotic. Lyne continued his streak of erotic dramas with “Fatal Attraction” and “Indecent Proposal,” and to some degree the 1997 remake of “Lolita.” Lyne’s style has fallen from grace over the years. “9 ½ Weeks” and “Fatal Attraction” rank at the top of the genre, along with “Basic Instinct.” In “Unfaithful” Lyne is unable to capture the true seduction between lovers and cannot get us to care about the relationship between husband and wife. The annoying child does not help either.
The most bothersome part of the film is perhaps the ending. The ending used in the film lacks realism. It is too happy for the type of film. The special features section contains the alternate ending, which is worse in some ways. Having Gere turn himself in to the police pisses off much of the male population. Gere, who was overcome by his wife’s betrayal when he killed Martinez, takes the rap for his wife’s discretions. I can only imagine the outrage by the female population if the situation were reversed. Double-standards.
“Unfaithful” is presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC encode. The transfer accurately portrays the color scheme of the film. The film ranges between cold and warm color tones. Both the blue and red extremes are nicely balanced. Fleshtones are rich, sometimes to the point in which they are slightly blotchy. The black levels are stable. They are not as deep and rich as many films, but they get the job done. The image does not pop off the screen, however, that is not the intention of the film. Details and textures are decent but not the best. Several medium shots contain blurred details. Sweaters and hair sometimes appear fuzzy. Other scenes have extraordinary details. There is some extremely minor artifacting and edge enhancement, but nothing to be concerned over. The previously DVD was plagued by an assortment of issues, so if this is a film for you then the Blu-ray offers an impressive upgrade,
The Blu-ray presents a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track. For the most part the track is transparent. The LFE channel doesn’t do much throughout the film. It picks up here and there, but is barely noticeable. The dynamic range is good but not expansive. Dialogue is intelligible and always audible. The music score sometimes overshadows the dialogue, but not to the point of masking. Sound effects are edited in a jumpy fashion. They appear right at an unexpected film cut, causing a little jump. For the most part the surround channels are inactive. Discrete effects never pop up in the rears, despite the countless times in which I expected them to. This is not a transfer issue. The effects are simply not there in the original sound design. Ambience is also lacking a bit. The opening sequence of the extremely windy day in New York City lacked the flustering winds across all the channels. It was not enveloping. Still, this is a good upgrade from the Dolby Digital track on the DVD.
The Blu-ray contains all the standard DVD bonus materials. Some have been upgraded to high-definition. First there is a full-length director’s audio commentary with Adrian Lyne. The track is informative, but it grows tiresome after a while. Next, there is scene specific commentary with actors Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez. As much as I adore Diane Lane, this track can be skipped. The deleted scenes and alternate ending have been upgraded to HD. None of the scenes provide any more insight into the holes left in the story. “An Affair to Remember” is a typical EPK featurette, with the cast and crew discussing the on-set happenings. “Cast Interviews” is a collection of promotional interviews. “The Charlie Rose Show: Interview with Richard Gere, Diane Lane Lane and Adrian Lyne” is a Q&A session from the Rose show. “Anne Coats on Editing” is a brief featurette on exactly what the title implies. Lastly there are some Director’s Script Notes and a theatrical trailer.
“Unfaithful” is a bit of a disappointment. However, if you are into love affairs and murder then this could be the film for you. The audio and video quality is not reference material, but they are an upgrade form the original DVD release.