Where it was once sporadic to see a different take on marital infidelity through the portrayal of a woman carrying out the act of adultery instead of the archetypal sex-obsessed man, it now looks as though this new slant is the preferred angle, Richard Eyre's The Other Man being an ostension of this trend. Nobody's worried though, either perspective makes an adequate Lifetime movie.

A seemingly picturesque love
A seemingly picturesque love

The standout quality of The Other Man is its mildly disjointed narrative, which does not become evident into well into the last part of the second act. In the meantime, try to imagine a film with a plot centered solely around a man who stares at his wife's MacBook trying to figure out her password and looking through her personal photos. When you've done that, you've just envisioned The Other Man's core source of action. Nothing really starts to happen until Peter (Liam Neeson) figures out the name and location of his wife's paramour (Antonio Banderas), Ralph (rhymes with rape).

Lisa and Ralph take a boat ride on the scenic Lago di Como

Driven by a somewhat rote form of jealousy, Peter sets out to Milan to stalk and kill Ralph, leaving his daughter, Abigail (Romola Garai), totally in the dark about his whereabouts. Instead of outright stabbing, shooting, or poisoning Ralph, Peter takes his time analyzing his prey, steadily getting to know him  by joining him in a game of chess every day at a caffeteria in the Corso Magenta area of Milan. As their acquaintanceship grows, Ralph freely speaks to him of a tryst he had with a shoe designer from Cambridge (a description that fits Lisa to a tee). Squeezing tightly to the chess piece, Peter grits his teeth and bears the account of their love affair.

Unlikely chums: The husband (right) and his wife's paramour (left)

Richard Eyre's story is laden with potential, but the acting delivered by Neeson and Banderas, especially Banderas, is so wooden, it falls short of enhancing the intractable dialogue in any way. The only decent characters are Abigail and her boyfriend, George, but their appearances are so rare, it just isn't enough to save the film from an acting catastrophe. The only interesting element is that Lisa's location is not at all what the viewer would expect. Eyre would have us believe that she simply abandoned her family, but it turns out to be something else altogether. That, I would say, is the one reason that The Other Man is different or worth seeing as opposed to, say, Unfaithful, another movie about adultery with far more intrigue.

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AuthorSmoking Barrel
CategoriesDrama