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20TH CENTURY FOX

MOVIE INFO
Director:
Adrian Lyne
Cast:
Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Olivier Martinez, Erik Per Sullivan
Screenplay:
Alvin Sargent and William Broyles Jr., based on the film La Femme Infidele by Claude Chabrol

Box Office:
Budget $50 million.
Opening weekend $14.065 million on 2613 screens.
Domestic gross $52.801 million.
MPAA:
Rated R for sexuality, language and a scene of violence.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround
Spanish Dolby Surround
Subtitles:
English, Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 124 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 12/17/2002

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary With Director Adrian Lyne
• Scene-Specific Audio Commentary With Actors Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez
• Deleted Scenes With or Without Commentary From Director Adrian Lyne
• “Charlie Rose Show” Interviews with Richard Gere, Diane Lane and Adrian Lyne
• “An Affair to Remember” Featurette
• Trailers


PURCHASE
DVD
Score soundtrack

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EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


Unfaithful (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

If I directed the biggest hit about infidelity ever to arrive on movie screens, I’d probably return to the well a few times. Because of that, I probably can’t blame Adrian Lyne for his continued fascination with cheating, a subject that we see in 2002’s Unfaithful. To be fair, Unfaithful bears little resemblance to Lyne’s best known success, 1987’s Fatal Attraction, so I can’t really accuse him of self-plagiarism.

However, in some ways I wish he had gone back to that vein. Unfaithful lacks the suspense and drama of Attraction as it presents little more than a bland female fantasy flick with a few suspense elements tossed in as well.

We meet married couple Edward (Richard Gere) and Constance Sumner (Diane Lane), who live in posh Long Island with their eight-year-old son Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan). During a visit to the big city, Constance literally runs into French bookseller Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez) in a vicious windstorm. She scrapes her knee, so he offers to help. They’re right in front of his apartment, so she goes upstairs to patch up her leg. Some sexual sparks fly as Paul clearly hits on her, but Constance doesn’t follow up on them and she returns home.

However, Paul remains in her mind, and Constance reluctantly calls him. She heads back to his apartment for “coffee” and Paul again attempts to seduce her. Constance resists once more and flees, but she continues to feel distracted and infatuated. This leads to a third apartment trip. They dance and finally do the deed. Heck, they even get a little kinky!

From their Constance weaves a web of deceit. She starts to see Paul regularly, which forces her to lie to an increasingly suspicious Edward. It doesn’t help that Paul pushes the public aspect of the affair, which creates more opportunities for others to catch them. Eventually Edward hires a private detective and discovers the full truth, which leads him to a confrontation with Paul.

In case this movie interests you, I’ll leave the remaining plot unspecified. However, I can’t say that much of it came as a surprise. Actually, I can’t say that the material that preceded those moments provided much that seemed lively or engaging. Instead, Unfaithful felt like nothing more than a lifeless cautionary tale.

Actually, in that regard, the movie varied. The first half came across more like a female fantasy flick, but the second part dealt more with the consequences of Constance’s actions. Unfortunately, neither segment presented any spark. Part of that came from the dull personality offered by Martinez. Sure, Martel’s a hunk, but he seemed like such a boring one. I won’t argue that a woman in Constance’s position wouldn’t make a move like she did, but it’d appear more believable had Paul come across like a more compelling figure.

Actually, all of the characters failed to make a mark. Lane did a fairly good job with the one-dimensional Constance, and Gere also seemed reasonably rich in his weak role, but they couldn’t quite escape the underwritten nature of the parts. This meant that I never felt the slightest interest in any of the personalities. As I wrote in my notes while I watched the flick, “who cares about this woman and her French fantasy?”

And that led to the fatal flaw of Unfaithful. I never felt any interest in its characters, which meant that its situations fell flat. This kind of material could have become more compelling, but as depicted here, it came across as little more than a bland sex flick.

By the way, how is it possible that Erik Per Johnson isn’t related to Jack Johnson from Lost In Space? These kids look and sound nearly identical! It’s spooky, but apparently they come from different gene pools.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B / Bonus B+

Unfaithful appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, the picture seemed quite satisfying, with few issues to detract from the presentation.

Sharpness appeared solid. A few shots looked slightly soft, but I felt most of those reflected the director’s intentions and didn’t seem to result from other concerns. In any case, the majority of the movie came across as nicely well defined and accurate. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no problems, and I also saw no signs of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I noticed a couple of small marks and some light grain, but otherwise the movie was clean.

Unfaithful used a somewhat muted palette that favored autumnal tones. These came across quite well, as the DVD showed nicely accurate and appropriately reproduced tones. They never appeared stunning, but they matched with the general design well. On occasion, skin tones looked slightly pinkish, however. Black levels were nicely deep and dark, and shadows came across appropriately heavy but not overly dense. Much of the film operated under low-light conditions, as Lyne used them for metaphors, so those elements became very important. The transfer showed those images well. Overall, Unfaithful provided a generally solid picture.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Unfaithful, it seemed erratic but it generally worked well for the film. Interestingly, the soundfield started slowly but became more involving as the movie progressed. At the beginning, the track remained very heavily oriented toward the front; even the windstorm that brought Constance and Paul together seemed surprisingly stuck in the forward channels.

However, this changed during the course of the flick. Gradually I noticed that the soundfield opened up more significantly, which appeared to occur to make the deepening tension more palpable; Lyne used the audio to make the setting seem more oppressive and jarring. It didn’t work – at least not for me – but this did mean the mix varied quite a lot depending on the scene. Much of the early movie used the soundfield for little more than music and light environmental cues, but during its second half, the piece provided some good five-channel moments. Another windstorm toward the end seemed significantly more impressive than the earlier one.

Audio quality came across as positive. Dialogue was natural and crisp, and the lines betrayed no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Music presented good fidelity. The score seemed clear and vibrant and also offered fine dynamics. Effects remained modest much of the time, but they featured solid accuracy and seemed distinct and vivid. Bass response added some oomph to a few bits; for example, the rumble of a bulldozer came through well. In the end, despite the growth seen as the movie progressed, the audio of Unfaithful remained too subdued to merit a grade above a “B”, but the sound nonetheless worked well for the flick.

For this special edition release of Unfaithful, we find a nice mix of supplements. These start with an audio commentary from director Adrian Lyne, who offers a running, screen-specific track. Though Lyne provides some good notes at times, the piece seems flat as a whole. On the positive side, Lyne covers some differences between his movie and the original on which it was based, and changes made to the script. Among other things, he also discusses some production issues and working with the actors. However, a few too many empty spaces occur, and Lyne also often just tells us how much he likes different aspects of the film. Boy, do those moments get old! Lyne lavishes lots of praise on the movie, and that doesn’t seem like helpful information.

In addition, we find a scene-specific audio commentary from actors Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez. Both were taped separately and the results were edited for this piece. It seems to cover roughly half the film, and a “Play All” option lets you check out the remarks in succession. Though not scintillating, the two performers offer some decent information about their parts. Lane dominates and provides the more useful notes of the two. She tells us of her approach to the role mostly, and she also talks about her history with Richard Gere. Lane tosses in some fairly insightful material.

Martinez seems somewhat less compelling. He chats about his casting and also gets into some character details, but his statements lack the depth of Lane’s. Still, Martinez delves into some intriguing topics, so his comments merit a listen as well. Surprisingly, the track suffers from a few extended gaps, which seems odd given its edited nature. Nonetheless, fans of Unfaithful will want to check out the reasonably interesting actors’ commentary.

After this we find a mix of video extras. We discover 11 Deleted Scenes, and these run a total of 16 minutes, 18 seconds. Adrian Lyne starts with an audio introduction in which he doesn’t tell us much beyond why he likes to live in France. None of the unused segments merited inclusion, and a few seemed actively silly and detrimental. A few others just appeared redundant, as many did little more than remind us of Edward’s suspiciousness. Lyne’s commentary offers the basic coverage of why the clips failed to make the cut and not much more, though we do get to hear his wife bring in coffee.

An Affair to Remember: On the Set of Unfaithful offers a 15-minute and 45-second documentary. It mixes movie clips, behind the scenes material, and interviews with Adrian Lyne, Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Olivier Martinez, and producer G. Mac Brown. We already heard some of the information during the commentaries, but “Remember” provides a decent little synopsis of the topics. The shots from the set help complement the narration and make this a quick but efficient and moderately useful program.

Better yet is Anne Coates on Editing, an eight-minute and 50-second chat with the legendary editor. She relates some of her ideas about editing as well as her specific work on Unfaithful. Coates notes that she doesn’t like to discuss her job but she nicely covers some good material here. I only wish she’d gone into detail about past efforts like Lawrence of Arabia, but as she amusingly comments, she doesn’t remember all of the specifics, so maybe it’s best she sticks with the present.

The DVD follows this with a Charlie Rose Interview that features Lyne, Gere, and Lane. The program lasts 18 minutes and 43 seconds and provides a fairly lively chat. A lot of the same information repeats here, but we get enough new facts and interpretations to make it worthwhile. In addition, the interaction between the participants lends an energy to the piece that fails to appear in the standard edited “talking heads” shots, so the “Rose” program offers a pretty good session.

For more material in this vein, we move to a section called A Conversation With. This splits into three separate interview programs with Gere (5:35), Lane (9:38) and Martinez (7:17). Gere chats about the film and tries to inject some interpretive depth into his character as he discusses the nature of mankind (really). Lane goes over her history and early experiences in acting through many of her other jobs. Martinez provides a similar chat as he goes into his early life and his work plus his thoughts on acting. Lane provides interesting remarks about different jobs, Martinez seems dull, and Gere falls somewhere in between. Although none of the material comes across as scintillating, I appreciate the fact these interviews at least attempt to examine subjects found a little off the usual path.

A very cool extra, the Director’s Script Notes provides a stillframe exploration of Lyne’s text. This area covers three parts of the movie: “Morning”, “Meeting”, and “Unthinkable”. The presentation varies between script pages on which Lyne wrote and his own typed notes. These offer some great insight into changes and his processes and seem quite interesting.

Lastly, Unfaithful ends with promotional materials. We find the theatrical trailer for Unfaithful itself as well as promos in the Fox Flix domain. This area includes ads for Daredevil and Dancer Upstairs.

I admit that I didn’t anticipate much from Unfaithful, and the film failed to live up to my modest expectations. The movie offered a bland and forgettable drama filled with lackluster characters and little suspense or intrigue. The DVD provided fine picture and sound as well as a very positive package of supplements. Fox gave Unfaithful good treatment on DVD, but I definitely didn’t like the movie enough to recommend it to anyone who doesn’t already know they care for it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2857 Stars Number of Votes: 126
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