(2002) *** R
123 min. 20th Century Fox. Director: Adrian Lyne. Cast: Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Olivier Martinez, Chad Lowe, Dominic Chianese.

/content/films/86/2.jpgA mighty wind of fate blows into the lives of a married couple in Adrian Lyne's Unfaithful. Lyne is a dedicated stylist, and as the years go by, what seemed like overstatement is beginning to look downright understated by comparison to new-milennial Hollywood noise. One of Lyne's most interesting efforts, Unfaithful showcases standout performances by Diane Lane and Richard Gere as Edward and Constance "Connie" Sumner, a loving pair that may not survive Connie's eleven-year itch.

Lyne opens with a typical day in the life for the suburban Sumners: packing eight-year-old son Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan of Malcolm in the Middle) and businessman Edward off to school and work, stay-at-home fundraiser Connie heads into the city to do her errands. When the wind picks up something fierce, it blows Connie directly into 28-year-old book dealer Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez). Exotic French transplant Paul swiftly charms Connie with kindness and come-ons, and she makes the fateful choice to follow him up to his apartment for medical care and not-so-casual chat. "Nothing" happens, but a seed is planted, and the housewife can't get her mind off of her exotic tempter. Return visits eventually turn into assignations, while the cuckolded Edward--no dummy, he--begins to pick up on the signals (the audience has long since picked up the script's dumbest signal: his wife's ironic name).

Lyne stirs up and watches over palpable eroticism and anxiety: it's not a matter of whether there'll be disaster, but what form it will take. Suffice it to say that detectives both private (Dominic Chianese) and public (Zejko Ivanek and Gary Basaraba) become involved as Edward tracks his wife's hurtful infidelity (Kate Burton and Margaret Colin play Constance's friends and foils). Lyne surrounds himself with top craftspeople: Oscar-winner Alvin Sargent and Oscar-nominee William Broyles, Jr., Oscar-winning editor Anne V. Coates, and Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Biziou. Gere shows intriguing new shades to his star presence, and Lane has never been so emotionally shattering, particularly in a bravura sequence on a bus that shows Connie processing every euphoric and devastating emotion brought on by her forbidden romance.

Based loosely on Claude Chabrol's La Femme Infidele (Lyne's favorite film), Unfaithful works precisely because it is so upsetting, unusually so for a studio film, and so empathetic for Connie at the hands of her attractive manipulator. "I think this is a mistake," she says. "There's no such thing as a mistake," Paul responds, betraying his amorality. "There's what you do, and what you don't do." Ultimately, Unfaithful is moralistic, but it understands the woman's tragic error and suggests anyone is capable of it, should the right circumstances and moment of weakness create "the perfect storm."

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Aspect ratios: 1.85:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio

Street date: 1/20/2009

Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

On Blu-ray, Unfaithful benefits from a significant improvement in clarity and detail, both visual and aural. The new image is a beaut, expertly replicating Lyne's subtle color scheme and shadow detail with a wonderfully film-like transfer. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track likewise recreates the subtle soundscape heard in theaters; all around, this is a very impressive reissue that should have fans tossing their DVDs in delight.

All of the DVD features are faithfully preserved here, and it's an impressive array. Adrian Lyne contributes a commentary that offers a thoughtful close analysis of the film and his own approach to the material, themes and characters. A second commentary with Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez is also entertaining and thoughtful in its discussion of what was necessary (and trying) to develop the characters under Lyne's intense scrutiny.

11 "Deleted Scenes" with introduction and optional commentary by Lyne (17:46 with "Play All" option, SD) add insight into character and the process of Lyne and his editor.

"An Affair to Remember: On the Set of Unfaithful" (15:49, SD) is a fascinating look at Lyne's sometimes punishing process, with on-set footage and interviews with Lyne, Gere, Lane, Martinez and producer G. Mac Brown.

"Anne V. Coates on Editing" (8:54, SD) is a happily unadorned interview with the beloved Oscar winner, as she frankly discusses her collaboration with Lyne and her discovery of some of the film's most memorable scenes.

"The Charlie Rose Show Interview with Adrian Lyne, Richard Gere and Diane Lane" (18:52, SD) may not be Rose's best interview, but as usual a lengthy Rose sit-down is a very welcome bit of journalism amongst studio-produced pieces. Speaking of those, we also get a suite of clips from the EPK interviews, called A Conversation with...: "Richard Gere" (5:38, SD), "Diane Lane" (9:42, SD) and "Olivier Martinez" (7:22, SD).

Lyne fans get a great gift in a gallery of Director's Script Notes for three sequences: "Morning, "Meeting" and "Unithinkable." An Easter Egg outtake (2:06, SD) of a sleepy Erik Per Sullivan is a bit of fun, and we also get the film's "Theatrical Trailer" (2:17, SD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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