Netflixable? “An Affair to Die For” has a plot worth stealing

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The chatty bellhop doesn’t know. All that chatter is what keeps him from figuring it out, reading the signs.

Because heaven knows we have. It was in the evasive conversation Holly (Claire Forlani) had with “Russell” on her way to the hotel, the “conference” that was really more a consultation.

It was in the flinch she gave the desk clerk when he called her “Mrs. Allen,” and mentioned “Mr. Allen” has already checked in to the suite.

Holly’s there to cheat. Twenty-one years of marriage or not, this is her weekend getaway with Mr. Not-Her-Husband.

The computer print out notes he’s left her in the room, the sexy undies and uh, handcuffs and BLINDfold in the box? Good times to come.

Only they don’t, not when it’s “An Affair to Die For.”

This cleverly plotted and aesthetically streamlined thriller puts two cheaters in a hotel suite, blackmailed by a spouse who tells the cheating man that he has his “family” so he’d better not tell, and he’d better not let the blackmailer’s spouse out of that room.

Or ELSE.

“I will KILL your family, starting with your beautiful wife, Lydia. What do you think about that, Lydia?”

A muffled scream in the background seems to confirm it.

The spouse? The blackmailer tells her she needs to GET OUT of that room, that she doesn’t know what manner of monster she’s been hooking up with these past several months.

Everett (Jake Abel) is handsome, sure. Younger. But FEAR him, husband Russell (veteran screen heavy Titus Welliver) hisses into the phone. “GET OUT.”

So there’s no faulting the set-up here. Two people with honesty and trust issues, each in the dark about the other’s motives, about to engage in a battle of wits to satisfy their competing agendas.

Sweet talking, oozing charm, trying to figure out if the balcony is something one can escape from, hoping to get a clue as to how Mr. Cuckolded knows what they do the minute that they do it.

Paranoia and tension rising, walls closing in, the ante being upped. The cutting remarks start.

“You were always the more ADVEN-turous one!

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But much of that promise and a pretty good cast — Forlani was in “Meet Joe Black” and other big studio pictures back in the ’90s, Abel was in “Love & Mercy,” playing Beach Boys lead-jerk Mike Love, Welliver’s been in everything, from “Law and Order” to “Argo” and “Shaft”) — is frittered away in a movie that generates little empathy and zero suspense.

It’s only 82 minutes long, but it doesn’t feel brisk. The stakes start out plenty high, but the players don’t give a hint of the panic that they’re supposedly trying to hide.

And the resolution is a third act cop-out.

If this screenplay hasn’t been test-run in the theater, it should be. It might make a good stage thriller, with some tweaks. The dialogue lacks punch, the competing agenda “incidents” need to be amped up — one trying to escape, the other desperate to do whatever awful thing it takes to save his family.

This “Affair,” as it stands, is nothing to die for, or even catch a cold over. The execution here, bland direction (a veteran of “The Mirror 2” behind the camera), colorless dialogue and performances pitched as almost mild-mannered (save for Welliver) earn this one a bored shrug.

1half-star

MPAA Rating: TV-MA, bloody violence, sexual violence

Cast: Claire Forlani, Titus Welliver, Jake Abel, Nathan Cooper.

Credits: Directed by Victor Garciá, script by Elliot Sand. An Aqute Media/Netflix release.

Running time: 1:22

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1 Response to Netflixable? “An Affair to Die For” has a plot worth stealing

  1. makeqfit says:

    Damn, that sounds like a great movie and premise! Its a pity it did not reach its potential.

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