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Film / Unfaithful

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Unfaithful is a 2002 American thriller drama film directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Richard Gere, Diane Lane, and Olivier Martinez. It was adapted from the French film The Unfaithful Wife (La Femme infidèle, 1968) by Claude Chabrol. It tells about a couple living in suburban New York City whose marriage goes dangerously awry when the wife indulges in an adulterous affair with a stranger she encounters by chance.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Edward bashes Paul's head in a blind rage, but judging from his horrified reaction, he didn't mean to kill him.
  • Blatant Lies: Connie tells plenty of these to make up excuses for her absences. Unlike many Genre Blind cuckolded spouses, Edward sees through them immediately—indeed, when he finally confronts Connie, he tells her that he knew from the first day.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The movie ends with Edward and Connie embracing and weeping in their car, stopped at a stop light that has clearly turned green, in front of a police station. Will Edward turn himself in? Will they go on the run as she half-seriously suggested? Will they try to return to a normal life with his crime and the fear of being caught forever hanging over their heads?
  • Business Trip Adultery: Inverted, since it's the spouse staying at home who's cheating. Although Connie has been sleeping with Paul for several weeks, she's relieved that Edward's absence means that she doesn't have to make excuses for her absences for a while.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Edward ends up doing this to Paul, his wife's lover, after accidentally killing him.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Connie flips out upon seeing Paul laughing and walking with another woman, actually getting physical with the two of them.
  • A Deadly Affair: Edward confronts Paul, who is Connie's lover, and kills him.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: After Paul and Connie consummate their affair, we get a montage of this interspersed with her home life.
  • For Want Of A Nail: While burning the private detective's pictures of her and Paul, Connie flashes back to when they met, only this time, she gets into a cab instead of going up to his apartment. Clearly, given how disastrously everything has turned out, she wishes that she'd done this.
  • Foreshadowing: When Connie meets with two friends for coffee and they spot Paul and begin gushing about him, one woman warns that an affair will only end badly. Sure enough, this one does.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Connie’s and later Paul’s adultery is consistently shown in a negative light. This coupled with her (arguably) happy marriage allows the movie to avoid an instance of The Unfair Sex.
  • Happily Married: Downplayed with Connie and Edward. While certainly loving, there's just enough hints that their marriage has fallen into a routine that any decade-long relationship might.
  • Heel Realization: Connie starts to get hit with this when she's late to pick up her son due to a tryst with Paul. It hits even harder when she sees him with another girl and suddenly realizes that she's risking her marriage for a guy she likely means nothing to.
  • Heroic BSoD: Connie finds the private detective's pictures of her and Paul in Edward's jacket and realizes that he knows about the affair. She promptly goes through preparations for that night's dinner party and the party itself in a daze.
  • Hypocrite: Connie flips out upon seeing Paul laughing and walking with another girl, even though she's cheating on her husband. He calls her out on this ("Me? I'm the liar?") Of course, with the revelation that Paul himself is married, he's a hypocrite too.
  • Irony: Edward hears a message from Connie to Paul, ending their affair— right after he's killed him. Even worse, we never once see an instance where Connie is tempted to call or visit him again, making Edward's actions truly pointless.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Connie and Paul go at it in a bathroom, a movie theater, and the hallway outside his apartment.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Connie masturbates while thinking about her recent extramarital tryst with her lover Paul.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Edward hits Paul over the head with a snow globe. There's a pause as Paul just stares at him. . . and then blood begins gushes from his head and he collapses and dies (clearly, the impact was hard enough to fracture his skull).
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Edward ends up killing Paul, his wife's lover.
  • Neverending Terror: After Connie learns that her husband killed her lover, she feels guilty about her infidelity and helps Edward cover up the crime. The ending scene has the two of them both break down crying as they pass a police station, the implication being that it's because they know they'll be living in fear of being caught for the rest of their lives.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Borderline cases bookend Connie and Paul's affair; Connie is walking out on Paul to stop her affections from developing further. She returns to get her coat and Paul sweeps her into his arms and off to bed. The last time is when she's storming out of his place after seeing him with another woman, having finally realized how destructive the affair is. Paul angrily chases after her, slams her against the wall, and starts forcibly kissing and groping her. She struggles at first, then quickly submits to her desires.
  • Private Detective: Edward hires one of these when he can't ignore his suspicions about Connie anymore.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Edward is remarkably calm, even friendly, when confronting Paul, but seeing one of the snow globes that he gave Connie as a present on Paul's desk is this for him, as it finally hits home how much she has disrespected their marriage. It's at this moment that he takes the globe and bashes Paul's head in using it.
  • Snow Globe of Innocence: Edward gives his wife Connie a snow globe depicting a man and a woman in the city with a dog. When Connie cheats on him with Paul, Edward smashes the globe on Paul's head. Their relationship was once innocent, but it soured with infidelity.
  • Stepford Smiler: Despite now knowing that her husband knew about her affair and killed her lover, Connie plays dutiful hostess to her dinner guests.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Downplayed. Edward and Connie aren't miserable, but she clearly enjoys the excitement that the affair brings.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Averted, as the cheating is depicted completely negatively.
  • Tap on the Head: Played realistically, for once. Edward bashes Paul over the head with the snowglobe that Connie gave him. There's a lull for several seconds as the stunned Paul simply stares at him... and then blood starts pouring down his face and he collapses, revealing that Edward has fatally injured him.
  • Wall Bang Her: Paul and Connie go at it in a bathroom stall and their final sex scene has them doing it against the wall outside his apartment.
  • Wham Shot: As one of their dinner guests admires the various knick-knacks Edward and Connie have, she sees the snow globe she gave Paul back in it's rightful place. Cue her stunned look as she realizes that not only did Edward know about the affair, he killed Paul.