The Other Man Wastes Terrific Cast on Dreary Filmmaking

Whatever initial life there might have been in a story by German writer Bernhard Schlink (The Reader) has been crushed to a pulp by writer-director Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal) in this flat thriller about a software executive (Liam Neeson) hunting down the lover of his absent wife (Laura Linney), an upscale shoe designer. It hurts to see a terrific cast (including the lovely and intelligent young Irish actress Romola Garai as the couple's quietly seething daughter) squandered on such dreary filmmaking, full of neo-noir fuss and bother to no particular end other than the banal question of whether one can love two people at once—or even just one who, pardon the unpardonable pun, is a bit of a heel. The short answer is yes; the long one involves many obligatory shots of computer sleuthing in gray old London. Then it's off to more picturesque foreign parts, where Antonio Banderas, fetchingly attired in designer suits, plays Latin lover and lots more besides. "I make things more beautiful than they are," he smirks, and even that's only a little bit true. Any genuine poignancy to be wrung from this callow tale is post-hoc and inadvertent—the sad sight of Neeson grieving for a missing wife.

 
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