"Unfaithful" certainly seems like the most restrained of director Adrian Lyne's often-controversial movies, but this is both a positive and a negative. The film stars Richard Gere and Diane Lane as Connie and Edward Summer, a wealthy suburban couple who live in the suburbs outside of New York with their 9-year old kid Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan, the strange younger brother from "Malcolm in the Middle").
On one windy day, Connie takes a stumble in the street and is helped up by a French book dealer named Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez). She goes up to his place for a cup of tea and a band-aid and is on her way - but, a day later, she can't get him out of her mind. Although her marriage to Edward seems relatively happy - or there's nothing to lead one to believe that it's not okay - she figures out a way to talk to Paul once again. A simple conversation turns more heated, and soon the two are in bed together with greater frequency.
Edward begins to suspect that something is amatter, but he has nothing to go on but his wife's suspicious moods and a few minor lies. He hires a private investigator to trail his wife and eventually, the investigator uncovers what Edward has suspected all along. Up until this point, "Unfaithful" proceeds along a fairly predictable path, but the later portion of the film does hold some unexpected events.
As noted, "Unfaithful" is certainly less intense than most of director Lyne's pictures. While this sometimes made the pace of the film slightly slow going and less tense, it also made the film's events feel a bit more realistic. Gere's performance also starts off a little too quietly, failing to register until later in the film. Lane is certainly the one that does most of the work in the picture and she successfully carries much of it. She manages to portray the character in a way that somehow makes her still seem at least somewhat sympathetic, while strongly portraying her character's feelings about the consequences of her actions.
I didn't always find "Unfaithful" entirely involving, but the film's performances (espeically Diane Lane, who's terrific) and fine screenplay (an adaptation of "La Femme Infidele" by Alvin Sargent and "Cast Away"'s William Broyles, Jr) made for interesting enough viewing.
VIDEO: Fox presents "Unfaithful" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen on this release. This is a very enjoyable transfer; while it's not perfect, it's still a fine representation of what the apparent intent of the visual style of the film was. Sharpness and detail are generally very good, but are a little inconsistent due to the photography. Peter Biziou ("The Truman Show")'s cinematography often captures scenes with a mildly soft focus, leading to an image that's often crisp, but fine detail is only infrequently apparent.
Some minor faults are occasionally visible, but nothing too serious. Some minor artifacts were spotted at a few points, as were a speck or two on the print used. However, I noticed nothing in the way of edge enhancement and no other issues were seen.
The film's fairly earthy and low-key color palette generally came across quite well. Aside from a few minor moments where some of the darker colors looked very slightly muddy, they displayed no concerns. Black level was generally solid, while flesh tones were accurate and natural. A very nice transfer, but it falls a couple of steps short. Note: Make sure that you look for the widescreen edition of this title (there is also a pan & scan edition). The widescreen edition has "Widescreen Special Edition" in a gold band across the top of the back cover, as well as a small logo at the bottom, along with all the other audio/video details.
SOUND: "Unfaithful" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 by Fox. As one would likely expect, this is not a particularly active soundtrack. While additional ambience in the outdoor scenes would have been appreciate, there seemed to be little need for anything else in the rear speakers during this dialogue-driven picture. Surround use is pretty rare - aside from some minor music reinforcement and a couple of almost unnoticable sounds, there's little for the rear speakers to do. Audio quality is enjoyable, as dialogue remained crisp and clear throughout, as did the score. Nothing much to discuss here, but perfectly satisfactory.
Commentaries: There are two commentaries presented on this DVD. The first DVD is a full-length audio commentary from director Adrian Lyne, while the second track is a scene-specific effort from actress Diane Lane and actor Oliver Martinez, who have been recorded separately. Lyne's commentary here is more interesting than the uneven tracks that he recorded for the recent special editions of his older films that came out on DVD recently. Lyne talks in great detail about the inspirations that went into this picture, especially from French cinema. I also enjoyed the director's discussion of how he saw the characters and how he thought best to present this tale. While there is a lot of discussion about the story and analysis of the performances, Lyne eventually begins to discuss some of the technical details of the production, too. Last, but not least, there's not as many spaces of silence on this track as some of Lyne's prior ones.
While some actors commentaries - aside from the party atmosphere that is present on the commentaries for most comedies - aren't particularly good, this one certainly was a bit better than I'd expected. Lane does most of the talking, showing a surprisingly good sense of humor about some of the things that she had to go through during the production, while mixing that up with some very enjoyable insights into the character and the story. Martinez also talks about how he got into the character and what it was like to work with Lane. It's not a full-length track, but there is a "play all" option so that the movie jumps ahead to where the actors are speaking next.
Anne Coates on Editing: The famed editor ("Lawrence of Arabia", "Out of Sight") discusses her opinions on cutting a scene and also points out her concepts on how she constructed some scenes in "Unfaithful". This interesting featurette lasts about 8 minutes.
Deleted Scenes: 11 deleted scenes are presented, with an audio introduction from director Adrian Lyne and audio commentary for each of the scenes.
An Affair to Remember: This is a 15-minute featurette that seems to be something made more for the DVD than a promotional featurette made prior. Again, Lyne discusses how he approached the story and characters, while also talking about some of the stories from the set. Gere and Lane also discuss their roles, actually offering some fun tidbits, information and insight instead of simply talking about the story.
Charlie Rose Interview: This nearly 19 minute piece is probably the most fun of the supplements, as although it covers the same ground that's been covered elsewhere, the two stars, Rose and director Lyne have fun chatting about the movie and make some good jokes at each other's expense. Good stuff.
Also: Interviews with Lane, Gere and Martinez; "Unfaithful"'s theatrical trailer (which I still think is a bit more dramatic and captures something that the movie doesn't) as well as the teaser trailer for "Daredevil" and the full trailer for "Dancer Upstairs". Last, but not least, there is a stills gallery of director Lyne's script notes.
Final Thoughts: "Unfaithful" wasn't without some flaws, but Diane Lane's superb performance did carry my interest. Fox's DVD edition is quite enjoyable, as it provides solid audio/video quality along with a lot of informative and entertaining supplements. Recommended.
The Film ***