FAITHFULLY DERIVED FROM REAL LIFE
Manila, August 20, 2002 ( STAR) By Butch Francisco - Statistically, there are really more husbands who betray their wives than the other way around. And since films basically mirror life, there are more movies about philandering husbands than adulterous wives. In the eternal love triangle of Eddie Rodriguez, Lolita Rodriguez and Marlene Dauden, it is always the man who is at fault. And then, there are those film bios of our super cops who are always portrayed as having mistresses – like Joe Pring (played by Phillip Salvador), who had a legal wife in the film (portrayed by Aurora Sevilla) and yet maintained a mistress (Maila Gumila) on the side.
Films about wives fooling around are actually fewer. However, these movies seem to be more exciting because they often have drama and suspense. This is likely because the adulterous character has to dangerously tread on the ego of the husband.
In local cinema, I remember a few films about women characters playing with fire. Amalia Fuentes playing a married actress in love with co-star Eddie Rodriguez in Pag-ibig Mo, Buhay Ko; Hilda Koronel (married to an older man, Mario Montenegro), who falls for the charms of Orestes Ojeda in Marupok, Mapusok, Maharot; Vilma Santos agreeing to become the mistress of Mario Montenegro in order to have a better life – in spite of being married to Phillip Salvador in Adultery; Vilma Santos again, bored with her old husband (Eddie Garcia) and carries on an affair with Gabby Concepcion in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and Anna Marie Gutierrez in the aptly titled Unfaithful Wife.
Abroad, filmmakers have spent rolls and rolls of film on this subject: From Moment to Moment with Jean Seberg, Bridges of Madison Country, A Perfect Murder, A Walk on the Moon and the 1969 French film, La Femme Infidele, which has been remade into the currently showing Unfaithful.
Transported into an American setting – specifically New York and its suburbs – we see in the opening of the film the picture of a happy family: successful business executive Richard Gere, his wife, auctioneer Diane Lane and their eight-year-old boy, who – and this is just an aside – failed to get any of the parents’ fine features.
On a terribly, terribly windy day in the SoHo district, Diane literally bumps into Olivier Martinez, a Frenchman in the business of selling books. This one chance meeting leads to a love affair blown out of proportion and which becomes really ugly toward the end.
Running for almost two hours, the film is quite long, but not a bit boring. Director Adrian Lyne meticulously builds up each scene before it goes into the next and this is what makes the film truly exciting.
And yes, each scene captures realism to its very core and is presented in a realistic, but sometimes painful, manner on the big screen. Wives who, once upon a time had gone astray – or probably are still at it – would definitely see art imitating life in this film. (In the same manner, suspicious husbands will get a lot of tips from this film on how to nail down their unfaithful wives.)
Lyne also exploits to the fullest the talents of his actress in this movie – particularly Diane Lane, who is really just divine in every scene. During the first time she makes love to Martinez, for example, she is shown trembling and yet passion is etched all over her face and body. Although she played a similar role in A Walk on the Moon, she gives her character here in Unfaithful a fresh approach. Her performance in this movie is remarkable from the beginning up to the end.
Richard Gere as the cuckolded husband – as always – gives another magnificent performance. His best scene is the part where he goes to the apartment of Martinez – the very love nest of his wife and her paramour.
Face to face with his wife’s lover, he almost crumbles into pieces, which he shows only through his facial and body expression.
In the 1995 Regal movie, Sa Ngalan ng Pag-ibig, Lorna Tolentino (as the legal wife of Christopher de Leon) and Alma Concepcion (as the mistress) also had a similar scene and this was obviously derived from La Femme Infidele.
But even if Lorna and Alma were both outstanding in this scene (they both received Urian nominations for their performances in Sa Ngalan ng Pag-ibig), that scene between Gere and Martinez was a lot more moving, not necessarily because it was better handled in terms of direction, but maybe because our heart goes out more to Richard Gere, a strong and highly successful man reduced to a pitiful pile of excitement in the presence of his wife’s lover.
I know this is unfair to women (and this has been brought up many times in feminist discussions), but there’s really a whole world of difference between a husband fooling his wife and a wife betraying her husband. It’s a double standard, but that’s society for you.
The ending of Unfaithful (which I will not reveal for the benefit of those who are just planning to watch it) is now a subject of debate among those who have seen the movie. But if you ask me, I am happy with it. And I am extremely happy and satisfied with this excellent movie by Adrian Lyne, who is able to masterfully stage here in Unfaithful a lot of scenes that are faithfully derived from real life.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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