Unfaithful wives and revenge-seeking husbands is not a new topic in Hollywood. A Perfect Murder (1998) staring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow and Unfaithful (2002) with Richard Gere and Diane Lane have explored this volatile subject.
The Other Man is the newest film to delve into this explosive area. Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal) directs and co-wrote the screenplay with Charles Wood (Iris). The cast includes 3 silver screen stars Liam Nesson, Antonio Banderas and Laura Linney.
A short story by popular German author Bernhard Schlink is the inspiration for this adulteress tale.
Peter (Nesson) and Lisa (Linney) are both successful professionals with a seemingly happy marriage living in London. Peter is a software designer, while Lisa designs high-class shoes for women.
One night over dinner, Lisa starts making several strange comments to Peter. She asks him if he ever wanted to sleep with another woman. Lisa talks about how a person has to make choices if they should become attracted to another person. Instead of seeing red flags, Peter goes on believing that everything is fine.
Lisa has something she wants to tell Peter, but she can’t. Suddenly, she’s gone. Peter is left wondering, “What happened?”
After hearing a romantic message left on Lisa’s cell phone by a raspy-voiced man, Peter finally starts to notice everything is not as perfect with his marriage as he thought. When Peter finds a mushy email sent to Lisa signed by someone named Ralph (Banderas) and some steamy photos of Lisa with another man, Peter becomes obsessed with finding this Ralph so he can have his vengeance.
Eyre and Wood have the perfect setup for an intense and exciting story. Instead, they fumble the ball and do not give us what we want. Once Peter finds Ralph, the story becomes confusing at times and looses its momentum. Rather than Peter beating Ralph to a bloody pulp, which is what I wanted to see, they become…friends!!?? They play chess together, Peter lends Ralph money and they even host a dinner together. What!!??
I guess Peter prefers to punish Ralph psychologically rather than physically, after he reveals a secret about Lisa that shocks Ralph. I know I’m barbaric, but if I found the man who was cheating with my wife, I’d give him a good old fashion beat down.
There are some intriguing plot twist included that help the story, but these are not enough to save the movie completely.
In a role similar to his role in Taken, Liam Nesson gives a very powerful performance that is rewarding to watch. He easily makes you feel the anger a husband has when he learns that his wife has been unfaithful.
Antonio Banderas has no problem playing the suave-speaking “other man”. You would enjoy seeing his smugness slapped out of him. Banderas is especially devilish when he describes his relationship with Lisa to Peter over a game of chess. You want to reach out, grab him by the throat and squeeze!!!!
Other than looking radiant, Laura Linney is not given enough material to show us that she is more than a pretty face.
While The Other Man falls short of its promising possibilities, Nesson and Banderas give you enough to keep you interested.
The Other Man is now available on DVD. Click on the movie screen below to see a trailer.