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Unfaithful

IT'S A cold, windy day. The wind is blowing everything in sight in swirls. Papers fly away, hats roll down alleys and skirts are whipped against the body. Some even take a toss in the maniacal natural activity in downtown Manhattan particularly, in Soho. A woman clutching her shopping finds herself hurled against a young handsome, French man carrying a load of books. The scenario is set for an act of indiscretion that will change lives forever.

When you think of adultery which gender usually comes to mind? Most often you think of the man — who has strong tendencies to stray. But then for every man who commits this act, there has to be a woman involved. And if the woman is unattached, she is guilty of breaking a home never mind if the man has been a very willing accomplice in the game.

However, in Adrian Lyne's, "Unfaithful", the blame falls on the attractive, middle-aged Connie Summer (Diane Lane), who not only has every conceivable comfort provided by a very good looking and charming husband Edward (Richard Gere), but a very cute eight year old boy Charlie (Eric Per Sullivan).

What is even better is that Edward is very much in love with his wife and provides her the space to move on her own and live a life apart from his busy working schedules. She has a beautiful house in the suburbs of New York to boot.

What more could a woman ask for? Apparently more or why or what could have warranted such a fatal attraction to the 28 year old Gallic charmer Paul Martel (Oliver Martinez), who offers some band aid for her bruises and a cup of tea at his apartment? After that irreversible, irrevocable meeting, she is unable to forget him. She finds excuses to land at his doorstep and he loses no time in taking advantage of her. She is soon obsessed with him and can think of nothing else to the extent she even becomes careless about her life with her husband and child. Her puzzled husband picks up the clues to her distracted living.

Driven by her lust and powerless to stop the madness she is soon caught in a dangerous web of deceit. Her husband in the meantime hires a detective to follow her and finds out about her affair. He sets out to confront Paul. Loosely based on Claude Chabrol's "Le Femme Infidele" or "Unfaithful Woman", the natural aspect of the story is that many women could be subjects for seduction if they run into guys who excite them. Connie is intrigued by the apartment which is filled with books and a feeling of living for the moment possibly reminds of her own carefree days of yore. She succumbs and foolishly meets him in public ignoring the fact that she could run into people she knows. The tension mounts very subtly in the first half with Connie's experiences with Paul overtaking any other thing. Richard Gere plays an ordinary, normal man and he does that with a degree of finesse. But when he does find out about his wife, his characterisation slips into ambiguity. While beautiful Diane Lane is probably the best thing in the film. She shows a range of emotions and a lot of her body if one may add, both not easy to do. Especially when she returns on the train to her home after her tryst with Paul. Guilt, pain, happiness, liberation, all these reveal more about her character than if she had spoken even a word.

The director has infused life into a common theme along with some really erotic footage.

He has given adultery a rethink. That no matter whichever way you look at it, "it always ends disastrously.'' That it exacts a terrible toll on marriage, on family and kids is brought home with a definite element of gloom. And now no matter how much you wish you hadn't made that fateful choice, grim reality is otherwise. Except that the conclusion of the film is pretty weak and left open. It's a bit annoying considering how much has been built up on the events leading up to it. But then that's artistic licence for you!

CHITRA MAHESH

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