I think every married person thinks about cheating on his or her
spouse. Maybe you flirt with the girl that sells muffins at work,
or as often happened when I was working at the Ralston Amoco, you're
one of those ladies that hands her panties to that rugged pump jockey
with the lingering masculine scent of gasoline about him. That never
happened to me; all I ever got was once this really pretty girl
in a Jeep leaned her head out the window, pulled me close and then
threw up on my shoes. But my coworker Roy got lusty glances, phone
numbers and the occasional manicured hand down his pants. Roy had
what we calla fuckface. That's why he moved on to big things modeling
boots in the Wal-Mart circular and I'm here in my basement wishing
I had some of those boots, or at least the ad so I could see how
much they cost. It could have been the other way around and I could
be the supermodel if I had taken better care of my acne as a teen
and my gut as an adult.
My point is that marriage means temptation. You commit your
heart and soul to one other person, but that doesn't mean that
you don't sometimes feel like a bass in a bathtub full of irresistible
Banjo lures. We all have our moments of temptation. Mine usually
come around one a.m. on a Saturday night at the Tavern, when I
am wired from second-hand nicotine, sedated through a haze laid
on by pitcher after pitcher of Budweiser, and filled with so many
bad ideas that they can't help but spill out. The Harelip is dancing
on the pool table, her too-short polyester dress creeping up her
thighs with every shake. She's gyrating faster and hotter and
the dress rises higher and higher. The drunken part of me hopes
the dress keeps slinking upward but the sober part hopes to God
that it doesn't. I'm afraid her nether-region is like the Lost
Ark, and once open, it will melt the faces off of everyone watching.
That's my weakest moment, and it happens every Saturday night.
When her thumbs hook into the stretch material and drag it over
her sharp hip bone, the Harelip's skin feels so close and so tangible.
In my drunken stupor, I think I want her touch, that her relief
would be like the solution to a Navier-Stokes equation, so unattainable
yet so desperately sought.
As right as it feels at that moment, though, I don't try to catch
her eye because I remember everything that can be undone in that
moment. Sure, three minutes of humping up against the grease bin
would be a little slice of heaven, but I already have a plus-sized
slice of heaven waiting at home. I need Mrs. Filthy more than anything
because when nobody else does, she trusts me. Even when she knows
I'm lying, she trusts me. I would do anything for her, even take
out the garbage eventually and nothing would break my heart more
than breaking her heart. I never want to lose her trust, because
even when I only have 84 cents in my pocket, I still have that.
I'm not trying to preach to anyone and I'm certainly no moral authority.
Hell, my moral compass is less likely to piont the right direction
than one of those 99-centers you buy for your dashboard at AutoZone.
I'm just explaining why I would never break my marriage vows. It's not because I love
my wife, it's because I'd be ruined if she didn't love me.
I guess what I'm getting at is that infidelity is not something
people enter into lightly; we all have a complex and unique set
of reasons to stay true. That is, unless there's a screenwriter
involved. In that case, as is with Unfaithful, all it takes
is a cheesy French lothario (Olivier Martinez) to get an apparently
happily married lady (Diane Lane) to drop her panties and play
horny housewife. And the consequences aren't as simple as a broken
heart or a busted home. They are, of course, murder.
Lane is married to a rich executive (Richard Gere) and they
live in a fabulously huge house on a lake north of New York City.
They have a precocious son (Erik Per Sullivan), fancy cars and
a maid. Lane and Gere's marriage has settled into a routine. He
wins the bread, she does the busy work of a rich lady, arranging
charity events and hosting elaborate birthday parties. One day,
while in Manhattan buying birthday decorations, the wind knocks
her into book dealer Martinez. She is immediately smitten by him,
and he is neither smitten nor disgusted. He's just a sex cipher,
existing for no other reason than to be sexy and seduce.
Before long, Lane's sneaking around, leaving out lingerie in front of her husband
and telling transparent lies so that she can go into the city and
make flippy-floppy in his attractive Soho flat, among stacks of
musty books and incomplete sculptures of ponies. The lies catch
up to her and her husband tracks Martinez down. In an unplanned
rage, he kills Martinez and then tries to cover it up. After the
murder, Lane and Gere have to sift through the rubble of their marriage.
They both know what the other has done and it goes unspoken in hopes
of returning to some sort of normalcy.
Credit Director Adrian Lyne for making an adult picture. There
were a buttload of teenagers at the screening I saw, but they
were sorely disappointed by Unfaithful's lack of teenagers
fucking pies. This story is not spectacular, there are no big
set pieces and the central murder is not sensational. Everything
has the muted, hushed tones of adults talking at a child's funeral.
It's extremely serious. The movie's look matches the material
perfectly. It's beautiful and warm in grays, browns and bathed
in yellow light. But like the living room nobody ever uses, it
isn't lived in; it's just meticulously put together. The story
moves at a snail's pace with the camera doing a fuzzy close-up
of every possible object that may have some symbolism. Lots of
rushing water, trains moving, books and other shit like that.
I didn't know what the hell all of it meant, but the camera spent
so much time on objects that I knew they must be important.
Diane Lane is outstanding as the just-shy-of-middle-age-but-still-hot
woman. She is good looking, but in an intelligent way that appeals
to the thinking-man's pervert. It's not the plastic fuckability
of Heather Graham or Denise Richards. Unfortunately, she is given
a narrow range to emote in, but she makes her cheating heart almost
sympathetic. Lane's naked plenty and she actually got my loins
twitching in a pretty cheesy Red Shoes Diary style stairwell
It's too bad the performance is wasted in such a simplistic
and unappetizing morality play. Lane is made unintentionally unlikable
because she so easily slips into an affair with Martinez. I could
see a smart woman falling for a complex man who has profound thoughts
and a large collection of back issues of Juggs, but Martinez isn't
even a character. He's just the guy off the cover of a Harlequin
Romance. You know, the guy with the torn shirt who is holding
the fainting woman? Martinez is a sexy Frenchman in a huge, sexy
flat, who recites sexy poetry in a sexy accent. There is a sexy
haze in his room, and he sexily never has to work. He simply exists
as an insecure screenwriter's compendium of what women want .
I can't imagine any lady in real life being so easily seduced
by so superficial a character.
Gere is bland in his typically creepy way. It's as though he
is working really fucking hard to get us to see his inner spirit
when a little emotion would have done the job. It hurts that his
character is a rich suburban dad from central casting, written
as flat as possible in order to maximize the contrast with his
explosive moment of violence. The character never has a chance
to gain our sympathy before he murders Martinez and is too big
a fucking pussy to confess. By the end, he's as yucky as Lane
and Martinez, crushed skull and all.
For a message movie, Unfaithful is pretty pointless.
Sure, homicide is great drama, but it turns a story about the
subtle impacts of infidelity into a movie about murder and getting
away with it. Why wasn't infidelity enough? The story stops being
something we can relate to and becomes just another Hollywood
"psychological thriller" where murders are as common
as STDs on the Attitude Lounge's toilets.
For the movies' last hour, we're left watching two weak people
snivel and cower and work hard to protect their superficial suburban
life. I didn't want to root for them, and I didn't care that they
were going to be unhappy. They're jerks and they deserve to be
miserable, and I didn't need two hours and a murder to tell me
Three Fingers for Unfaithful, mostly for Lane's
performance, the decent sex scenes and Hollywood's willingness
to make a movie for adults. The moral is trite: infidelity is
bad. I'm not sure why Hollywood has to keep reminding itself.