In the picture

July 26, 2020

Fatal Affair is as derivative as its title suggests.

Fatal Affair★

Starting: Nia Long, Omar Epps, Stephen Bishop, Aubrey Cleland, and Maya Stojan

Directed by Peter Sullivan

Secret Obsession, Dangerous Lies, and now Fatal Affair... Netflix sure seems fond of cliche-ridden thrillers. The streaming service’s latest attempt at suspenseful dramatics, just like its aforementioned predecessors, ranks among the company’s most underwhelming releases.

At the centre of the film’s unoriginal tale is lawyer Ellie (Nia Long), whose marriage to husband Marcus (Stephen Bishop) has been going through a rough patch as the latter recovers from an accident. Enticement arrives in the form of her college acquaintance David (Omar Epps), who is now a tech consultant and has unexpectedly joined the firm she works at. A casual hang-out turns amorous, but before things escalate, Ellie puts a halt to the tryst, much to the disappointment of David. He promptly begins to stalk her.

Ellie mends her relationship with Marcus, but David keeps inserting himself into her life, making it clear just how unhinged he is. It soon becomes obvious that the survival of not just her marriage but the lives of those around her – including daughter Britanny (Aubrey Cleland) and close friend Courtney (Maya Stojan) – are at stake.

What we have here is not so much a plot, but more a series of worn-out cliches that have been strung together from start to finish. Even the film’s title pretty much gives away the fact that this is basically a Fatal Attraction rip-off; it lacks, however, almost everything that made the classic thriller such a success.

The premise is as stale as it sounds. All developments are downright predictable. Inventive ideas, interesting arcs, and psychological insights are conspicuously absent. Twists and surprises are nowhere to be found. The script is bland. The characters are unconvincing, their actions and decisions nonsensical.

The cast just seems to be going through the motions. Long has a charming presence, yet she is unexciting as the lead; you get the sense that the material she is working with is to blame for her uneven performance. Epps can’t quite make his character as menacing as the tale requires.

Peter Sullivan (also responsible for the snooze-fest that was Secret Obsession) makes the most uninspired choices at every turn, ultimately creating a film devoid of tension, believability, and originality.

Nothing, in short, works here. It’s a dull, tedious episode, the production of which has the aesthetics of a made-for-TV movie (and not a good one).

It is sad that Netflix keeps wasting its resources on such underwhelming projects when it clearly has the means to create interesting, compelling thrillers instead. People may stream such content, but even the most undemanding viewer is likely to be disappointed by something as derivative and predictable as Fatal Affair. You’d think it would be in the streaming service’s own interest not to keep letting its subscribers down.

Rating system: ★Not on your life ★ ½ If you really must waste your time ★★ Hardly worth the bother ★★ ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
★★★ Good enough for a look see ★★★ ½ Recommended viewing ★★★★ Don’t miss it ★★★★ ½ Almost perfect ★★★★★ Perfection

In the picture