Friday, October 19, 2012

10 Exceptional Cases of Wives Interrogating Their Cheating Husbands

I hope you didn’t think I was going to let the men get off easy. Yesterday, I listed my 10 favorite instances of husbands interrogating their cheating wives. Today, the men get chewed out.

I hope you enjoy the second (and final) installment of this admittedly random (but no less fun) series!

Anne Archer vs. Michael Douglas
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Once the poor bunny is fatally boiled, Dan Gallagher finally thinks his wife, Beth, deserves a few answers. And so he openly admits to his affair with temptress Alex (Glenn Close). Beth flips, attempts to kick Dan out, but then something unique happens. He pauses and actually calls Alex on the phone, in hopes of explaining to Alex that she no longer has blackmail leverage over him. Alex doesn’t believe that Dan has told his wife about the affair, which is when Beth gets on the phone and calmly asserts that she will kill Alex if she comes near her family again.

Honey, you don’t know the half of it.

Lorraine Bracco vs. Ray Liotta
GoodFellas (1990)
Most everyone involved with GoodFellas say that the most difficult scene to shoot was the sequence in which Bracco’s Karen sits on top of her husband, Henry, pointing a loaded six-shooter in his face while he sleeps. Now, when I first saw GoodFellas, I was well aware of the fate of Henry Hill, but something in Bracco’s eyes (her cold, lifeless eyes) convinces you that she just might do it. I’ve seen this movie upwards of 100 times, and that scene is never not uncomfortable.

Molly Hagan vs. Matthew Broderick
Election (1998)
Matthew Broderick’s character in Election is perhaps Alexander Payne’s most pathetic character to date (of which there are many). So when he (pathetically) attempts to demonstrate his secret love for his wife’s best friend, Linda, she reciprocates, resulting in a planned tryst together. But when the day comes, Linda is nowhere to be found. Carrying himself home, Broderick is shocked to find Linda sitting on his living room couch… right next to his wife. He stares at them, and embarrassingly let’s out a (pathetic): “…okay,” before walking away shrunken and heartbroken.

Toni Collette vs. Greg Kinnear
Dinner with Friends (2001)
One of the more devastating inclusions on this list is the extend battle between Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear in Norman Jewison’s criminally overlooked Dinner with Friends.

Tom (Kinnear) has stepped out on his wife, Beth (Collette) by sleeping with a hot, young travel agent. So when he shows up to their house after his flight is cancelled, Beth wants nothing to do with him. But Tom wants answers. He wants to know why Beth has ousted him to their best friends. So, here, we have the cheater play victim while the victim play the abused. Until she decides to fight back.

Amanda Peet vs. Ben Affleck
Changing Lanes (2002)
Amanda Peet’s subtle beating of Ben Affleck in Changing Lanes is arguably the best scene of her unjustly underrated career. Meeting her Wall Street lawyer husband for a brief lunch, Peet tells her Affleck how her mother knew about her father’s long-standing affair with another woman. She knew, and she let it happen, because his work as a lawyer afforded her the luxioursly life she was used to. To call him out on his affair would be to take away everything she has. That’s when Peet (slowly, ingeniously) informs Affleck that she knew about his affair, while it was happening, and when it had ceased.

There’s A LOT more going on in this scene than a wife casually confronting her cheating husband, but damn. I’ve never seen a spousal interrogation like this one before.

(Props to Nick of Cinema Romantico for bringing this scene, which I had ashamedly forgotten about, back to my attention.)

Laura Linney vs. Liam Neeson
Kinsey (2004)
After Professor Kinsey (Neeson) has slept with his male assistant, he tries and mostly succeeds at rationalizing the affair in the name of science. But Linney’s character is too strong for that. And fierce. She demands solid answers via candid admissions of guilt.

“Haven’t I been open to everything you have asked?!” she screams at him through tears. It’s utterly devastating to watch Kinsey slowly wear her down. But, in the end, she gets hers. And then some.

Michelle Williams vs. Heath Ledger
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Years after Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) and his tortured wife, Alma (Williams) have divorced, they share a seemingly innocent kitchen sink moment after Thanksgiving dinner. She asks him if he still sees his pal, Jack Twist, before sneakily diving into an attack on Del Mar’s frequent weekend getaways with Twist. The consequence of her action never fails to shake me, and, quite frankly, should’ve resulted in Oscars for both of the actors involved.

Jacinda Barrett vs. Zach Braff
The Last Kiss (2006)
Leaving his pregnant fiancé home while he goes partying with a college coed, Zach Braff returns to his once-humble abode in the midst of an ambush. His wife knows that he’s been out with another woman, and through means of convincing intimidation, she forces Braff to relent what he has done. She tells him it’s over and begs him to leave. He doesn’t. Screams are heard, knives are drawn, and it all comes tumbling down. One question: given the strength of her performance here, why the hell isn’t Jacinda Barrett in more movies?

Kate Winslet vs. Gregg Edelman
Little Children (2006)
How is a wife expected to respond to walking in on her husband jerking off to porn while sniffing a small pair of panties? Well, for starters, how about telling him, “We need to talk.”

Hours later, when he’s overly confident and ready for that chat, you can really win the battle by telling him, “I’m tired,” and walking off. Which is precisely what Kate Winslet expertly does here.

Marisa Tomei vs. Philip Seymour Hoffman
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
A bit of an admitted spin, as Tomei is technically the one doing the cheating in this film. But even after packing her bags and walking toward the door with all her luggage (luggage that Hoffman smugly does not help her carry), and even after admitting that she’s been balling Hoffman’s brother for months, we still feel that she is the victim. 

Hoffman's character is so closed off and shut down, it's as if Tomei was using her affair as a means of waking him up. And still, she's the one doing the interrogation. And who can forget Hoffman's steady, silent reaction to this news? Perfect. Just perfect.


  1. Oh crap, Alex. That scene in Brokeback Mountain disturbed and depressed the crap out of me, and here I open your new blog post, on Google Reader, and that picture is staring me in the face! :-P

    Such a magnificent movie, but I think I'd rather have a sharp stick in my eye than watch it again. *Sniff*

    Another great list. The only others I've actually seen are Fatal Attraction (not a great movie, IMO, but disturbing) and The Devil Knows You're Dead (another great movie I probably won't watch again -- and yes, that scene spoke volumes!)

    Why have I never heard of Dinner With Friends?

    1. Ahh sorry to startle you haha. That scene in Brokeback is so damn intense, isn't it?

      I don't think Fatal Attraction is a great movie either, but I do think Close is perfect in it, and Douglas and Archer are fine as well.

      Dinner with Friends was an HBO movie based on a mildly successful play. Like all HBO movies, it was horribly short lived. I highly recommend it!

  2. I like this idea! I'm with Stephanie, that scene in Brokeback Mountain was so powerful. I love the Before The Devil Knows You're Dead and Little Children ones too. I feel a little bad for sort of rooting for the affair in Little Children though.

    1. Thanks! Ha, fair enough that you root for the Little Children affair... I honestly think that was kind of the point, in a way. The fact that we don't really judge them, but are happy that they have some sort of pleasure in their lives. Love that movie.

  3. Man, I need to re-watch Brokeback Mountain. That scene was one of several from that film alone that left an impact on me.

    1. Oh definitely. I can never watch that movie too much.

  4. My first experience of Brokeback Mountain was sort of unpleasant because the sound suddenly went low during the screening for about 10 minutes and it kind of ruined the film for me but then it went back up. I remember that key scene between Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams. "Jack Nasty" The way Williams said that was really painful and it is a very powerful moment and that was the moment that I realized this is acting at its finest.

    1. Ugh, that sucks man. One of the reasons that movie theaters can seriously ruin a movie watching experience. Bummer dude.

      Glad you were still able to appreciate that masterful film though.

    2. At least I got a free pass as compensation and used it to see Match Point.

  5. Thanks for the linkage, man. I appreciate it.

    This is a seriously great idea for a 10 best list. Very unique. That sequence in "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" is fantastic. I love how they didn't just use those stairs to look nice in the background but actually EMPLOYED them to enhance the scene.

    1. Thank YOU for such a good write up of that scene.

      The way Before the Devil used those stairs is Lumet at his finest. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if that bit wasn't scripted, and Lumet saw the room and said, "Yeah, struggle getting your bags up those stairs, and Phil, don't help her."

      I miss that man.

  6. this is a great list! some of my favorite movies are here :)

    1. Thanks! I guess I never realized until now how many great movies deal with marriage infidelity.

  7. Great list man. Love that you included Changing Lanes. Everything about that film is underrated.

    1. Thanks dude. Oh I agree. That is a very underrated flick.

  8. Very good choices! Particularly Brokeback Mountain - to this day I'm amazed that words "Jack Twist....Jack nasty!" don't sound ridiculous and that's all thanks to Williams's talent.

    1. Oh god, I could not agree more with what you said. That is such a risky line on paper, and Williams completely sells it. Perfect performances all around in that movie.

  9. Good list, Alex. If TV was included, I would strongly suggest adding Curb Your Enthusiasm's "Krazee-Eyez Killa" to your list. Even though Wanda and Krazee-Eyez were only engaged, it's worthy of honorable mention, most def. "You're that scared of Krazee-Eyez that you'd flee the country?"

    1. hahah YES! "You my Caucasian, right?!"

      Looove Krazee-Eyez Killa.

  10. Would Network's oscar winning scene count? Fantastic fucking piece of cinema regardless, just wondered if it was in consideration? :)

    1. I remember feeling silly for not including that one here. Simple oversight is all!