In Adrian Lyne’s newest Alliance for Marriage promo, the perfect couple’s perfect child portrays a flopsy bunny in his school play, but this invocation of Fatal Attraction‘s notorious rabbit stew doesn’t indicate any newfound self-awareness on the director’s part. Fatal Attraction—a Reefer Madness for masters of the universe contemplating flings with medusa-tressed maenads—undergoes gender-reassignment surgery and heavy post-op sedation to become Unfaithful (20th Century Fox, in general release from May 10). Ironically monikered Constance (Diane Lane), an SUV-driving suburban homemaker, smacks into smoldering French bibliophile Paul (Olivier Martinez) in Soho during tornado season, and soon they’re arranging for every manner of whiplash collision in his cavernous, book-littered Mercer Street loft (also public restrooms and the Village East theater). Meanwhile, Connie strains to evade the suspicions of schlub hubby Edward (Richard Gere)—who’s all but hired a private investigator before the miscreants’ clothes even hit the floor—and manage the commute from White Plains. (The actress’s struggle is more burdensome, as she must play Michael Douglas, Anne Archer, and briefly—when Connie incites a catfight in the Strand—Glenn Close.)
Casual familiarity with Lyne’s oeuvre is all you need to predict the major plot contortion (which occasions a geyser of blood to rival Dan Aykroyd’s Cooking With Julia Child homage). Improbably, though, William Broyles Jr. and Alvin Sargent’s script ups the ante on Lyne’s customary home-and-hearth pathology—Paul isn’t just a cocksure Eurocharmer, he’s a soulless predator of American family values. The auteur traces the lineage of his anti-adultery screed back to Claude Chabrol’s La Femme Infidèle (1969), but the vintage is pure ’87, with a halfhearted twist on its cautionary message: Fatal Attraction = don’t have an affair with a nutjob; Unfaithful = don’t if you’re married to one.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 7, 2002