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Heroes of the Zeroes: Unfaithful

by on November 11, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

Rated R

It’s devastating, really — the way director Adrian Lyne depicted how the domino-effect destruction of 2002’s “Unfaithful” came within milliseconds of never happening.

Connie (Diane Lane) could pick up and perish the idea of sleeping with exotic, enticing Paul (Olivier Martinez) — returning home determined to reawaken her husband’s passion.

Likewise, Ed (Richard Gere), could reduce the rage at discovering her infidelity — resolving to attempt reconciliation and not avenge a fling that’s blossomed into full-fledged intimacy.

Lyne has never been much for subtlety — but when is true sexual passion not abandoned inhibitions and wild expression? He understands, though, that the psychology of erotic fantasy has as much potential to obliterate as to titilate.

“Unfaithful” never arouses, judges or mounts a morality play: It’s a dark, delusional piece of sultry fantasia that doesn’t condemn or condone Connie or Ed’s choices. It simply presents people surprised by the ease with which they transgress and allow little white lies to fester into gigantic, tumorous deceptions.

Gere’s career-best year (“The Mothman Prophecies” and “Chicago”) continued as a man whose pleasance disguises tourism in his own marriage. And fully carrying the complexities of a conflicted woman, Lane should’ve earned an Oscar — her train-ride afterglow a hyperventilation of heat, laughter, tears, shame, self-disdain and devilish delight.

Like “A History of Violence,” “Unfaithful” left this family dangling from a cliff and left unresolved its uncomfortable theme: Whenever we tire of sameness, it’s easily to believe that it couldn’t possibly have been our plain, boring idea to live this way.