The Other Man (2008)

  • Time: 88 min
  • Genre: Drama | Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Richard Eyre
  • Cast: Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Antonio Banderas


In Cambridge, the software engineer Peter (Liam Neeson) and the shoe designer Lisa are successful in their careers and have been happily married for twenty-five years. They have an adult daughter, Abigail, and Lisa frequently travels to Milano to do business with the Gianni & Gianni Company. When Lisa is gone, Peter finds a message in her cellular and decides to snoop her e-mails and discovers in a secret folder named Love that she had a lover, Ralph. Peter travels to Milano and stalks Ralph; he finds that the man plays chess in a bar. Peter gets close to Ralph and discusses his relationship with Lisa without knowing that he is her husband.

One comment

  • In sexual terms, The Other Man is like having some pretty good foreplay but when you finally get around to doing the deed, the man’s erection completely disappears. It slowly builds your anticipation, only to leave you with nothing but disappointment and frustration.

    Peter (Liam Neeson) is a successful businessman. Lisa (Laura Linney), his beautiful wife, is a shoe designer for high fashion. Abigail (Romola Garai), his daughter, is in love with a scruffy looking guy of whom Peter disapproves. After a cryptic post-fashion show conversation with Lisa, the film jumps ahead to Lisa being dead. That’s when Peter discovers she was having an affair with a Spaniard named Ralph (Antonio Banderas). Peter compulsively seeks out Ralph (pronounced Rayf) and discovers her lover doesn’t know that Lisa has passed away. Peter befriends Ralph and gets him to talk about Lisa and their love, seemingly as a prelude to killing him. But then Peter discovers the truth of who Ralph is and the reality of his feelings for Lisa and…well, I’m not really sure how to describe what happens after that. I mean, I could describe it, but you’ll think I’m making it up because it’s really that ridiculous.

    The first half of this film is quite effective. It treads a line between being an emotional drama and a thriller, always leaving you in of suspense about what’s going happen. It subtly defines Peter as a man who’s been unable to function since his wife’s death until he finds a purpose in her adultery. You can see him wrap his arms around Lisa’s betrayal as though it’s brought her back to him and you can feel the tension build in him as he descends on the man who cuckolded him.

    After delightfully tantalizing the viewer, however, The Other Man goes irretrievably flaccid. All the emotion, all the investment, all the interest is killed deader than Napoleon’s boner. That’s because at the moment when the movie finally brings Peter and Ralph face-to-face, it goes into a string of intermittent flashbacks that continue through the entire 2nd half of the film. It’s flashback after flashback of Lisa and Ralph, Lisa and Peter, Lisa and Abigail and it just destroys the story because all of the flashbacks displace the conflict you’ve been waiting the whole 1st half of the movie to see. You want to see Peter and Ralph interact. You want to see Peter play a cat-and-mouse game with the man he intends to kill. You want to see Ralph slowly start to wonder who this stranger is who keeps asking about Lisa. You want to see anger and jealously and hatred slowly seep into their conversations before exploding into the truth. And none of that really happens because the damned flashbacks get in the way. Peter and Ralph don’t have one extended talk that doesn’t get taken over by a flashback and it utterly derails all of the momentum built up in the story. To use sexual terms again, it’s like watching an x-rated movie and in the middle of every sex scene, an image of your grandma pops up on screen.

    Now, Laura Linney does get naked, which remains a very good thing. She, Liam Neeson and Antonio Banderas also try hard, but Neeson and Banderas’ characters are so frequently interrupted and displaced by all the damned flashbacks that they never get the chance to do more than sputter.

    The Other Man is half good, but the other half is so vexing that it ruins the whole thing. Unless you’re somebody who only likes foreplay, don’t bother with this motion picture.

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