Friday, December 12, 2008

Unfaithful and Damage

I started writing a screenplay a month ago about adultery. It's a subject that I find compelling and one that I have very, very strong opinions about.

I've recently been watching films for inspiration. First Unfaithful. I remember really liking Unfaithful the first time I saw it in the theater. The film takes a hard look at the motivations or lack of motivations that propel a housewife into an affair with a sexy book seller. Stealing away from her suburban life of washing dishes, picking up after her son, lunching with girlfriends, she finds herself sneaking off to the city for a steamy affair with a sexy French man. But when her husband finally puts two and two together, it ends in complete and utter disaster. What I like about the film is Diane Lane's character, Connie. There's such confusion of emotions. The scene on the train of her remembering and crumbling, it's pretty riveting to watch. And what's interesting about this film is that the affair brings the husband and wife closer in the end. In a believable way. I guess what I like about this film is that I believe that it could happen and that it does. Even with a faithful husband and small child. It's heartbreaking, but I believe it.

Here's the thing ... I can almost (heavily emphasized) understand a one night fling if you're in a situation at home that leaves you hollow and depressed. But to go back again and again after that one time ... I don't get it. These are only guesses, (because I've never been in this situation) but I would assume that the pain and sickness that you'd feel about yourself would be unbearable. Especially if you have children. That to me is just downright inhuman. And again, I have pretty strong opinions. I'm not very forgiving when it comes to this kind of thing. Unfaithful still held up for me though. Especially the third act of the film which for some reason I'd forgotten. I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Richard Gere's character. He's a good man who loves his wife and would do anything for her, regardless.

Next up, Damage. I never saw the film when it first came out. I think I was too young maybe? It's pretty racy. Maybe it doesn't hold up with time, I don't know, but I didn't like it. Or rather, I didn't buy it. The whole introduction to Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche's affair isn't believable. They stare into each other's eyes at a party (without a single word) and then next thing you know they're ripping at each other's clothes. Maybe in our fantasies, but not in real life. And I didn't care about the characters because they didn't seem to care about each other. I never saw love in anyone's eyes. Besides those betrayed and left behind. And the idea that a father would continue an affair with his son's girlfriend and continue to want her long after his son's death (which was a result of the affair). Really? The film otherwise is stunning ... performances, cinematography, pacing, tone ... but I just couldn't believe it.

So I'm exploring what leads people (smart people) to affairs? People in committed relationships who truly love each other. Why would you risk all of that? I think it's probably different for women than for men. Or at least that's the sense I get in conversations with friends. But I find it really interesting.


debbie said...

I think Sex and the City does a great job of depicting the pain & consequences of cheating - when Carrie cheats on Aiden w/Big. There's a few episodes that touch on the deception, hurt, confusion.
Good stuff.

Kat Candler said...

I watched one or two episodes with Karen when I was going through a terrible break up and found the series stomach turning. I've since had a severe dislike for that show and the movie. I couldn't even finish the film I thought it was so bad. So basically, I'm not a Sex in the City fan although I know tons of friends who are.

debbie said...

I thought the movie was god awful!!!!!!

Stacy said...

I've seen a lot of the damage of affairs, in friend's lives, at work, you name it. The times I've been propositioned by married men, I laughed at them. I guess I just can't find it sexy or interesting or even entertaining. It seems like loving with your arms crossed, which seems pointless, to me, anyway. I don't know, I guess I'm just one of the weirdos.

ryan said...

You should watch the 1943 David Lean film, "Brief Encounter." One of my faves. Obviously, since it's so old there is no sex, but it's about an emotional affair.

People cheat for all kinds of reasons; as many reasons as why people get into relationships in the first place. They serve different functions for different people.

And never doubt the true immediacy of lust; i.e., meeting someone's eyes across a room and ripping their clothes off 20 minutes later. That's good stuff!

Kat Candler said...

i'd be a liar if i said i never thought about having an affair at some point in my life. when i did was at a low point in a relationship. it almost seemed like a way out. but would i have acted on that impulse, no. but i think the thoughts that run through my head sometimes make me human.

i think it's all pretty interesting. entertaining? yeah. as much as i find watching a murder mystery or a psychological thriller interesting. i think human beings are a fascinating breed. and i think their choices and the repercussions of those choices are interesting. maybe i'm the weirdo.

Shane said...

Three words: Eyes Wide Shut.

Kat Candler said...

I should revisit that film. I remember not liking it the first time around. But I should definitely give it a second chance. Thanks!

ctxphotoman said...

The choice to do the unfaithful thing or not is directly related to your level and kind of commitment to the other person. That could be a bad thing if you have a relationship with an abuser and one or the other has a "no matter what" commitment. It could be a good thing if a guy finds a girl who literally loves the hell out of him. (nice hook for a song there, huh?) Bottom line is that if your love runs deep enough you won't cheat.