“You can’t do monogamy 90% of the time.” – Alanis Morissette
I don’t usually offer disclaimers ahead of reviews. But this is an exception. Since this is a movie about infidelity and I’m making a critique of the movie, I feel compelled to disclose that I’ve been a victim of spousal infidelity. More than once. I hope this isn’t coloring my assessment of this film.
How He Fell in Love is an unusual film in several ways. It’s an indie drama that isn’t making a social statement. It looks at a critical social issue without making any judgments. “Ellen” (Amy Hargreaves) is a woman who came to New York City to become a dancer but had that dream shattered when she was injured. She is now a yoga instructor who owns her own studio in the city. She’s married to “Henry” (Mark Blum) who is much older, is a land developer and he’s out of town when she attends a wedding in the countryside.
While waiting for her ride back to the city she meets “Travis” (Matt McGorry). He’s more than a decade her junior and has been drifting aimlessly in life after his band fell apart following a tragedy. She offers to share her ride back and he accepts. She invites him to attend one of her classes and he says he will. When he gets home he encounters his girlfriend “Monica” (Britne Oldford). She’s unhappy that Travis didn’t take her to the wedding and introduce her to his friends. She dumps him, he decides this is the moment to give up music and soon he’s working with focus groups to scratch out a living.
Not long after he goes to one of Ellen’s yoga classes and they quickly develop a relationship beyond that of teacher and student. They begin an affair that grows to a certain point in intensity and then plateaus. Henry finally returns from Florida, he and Amy are conflicted over other personal issues in their married life. The affair continues with Henry in the dark. Until something happens as the two illicit lovers are returning early from a stolen weekend, again in the countryside. This leads to Henry discovering what has been going on and the predictable conflict ensues between husband and wife, and between the two paramours.
Movies about marital infidelity abound. Fatal Attraction, What Lies Beneath, To Die For, Jungle Fever and the aptly titled Unfaithful are only a partial list. It’s a societal problem that invades America’s living rooms daily on shows like Jerry Springer, Maury Povich and Cheaters. But to make a film on the topic without taking a position on the right and wrong of infidelity itself is unusual. Especially when it’s a well-crafted movie.
The 107 running time passes quickly, a point in the film’s favor. The chemistry between Hargreaves and McGorry is strong and they play their roles well. But the best moments are those when we watch Hargreaves and Blum deal with the difficulties of trying to re-knit the fabric of their union. Every moment of those scenes is real and palpable. While those sequences are the best parts of this film, the whole thing rings of real people, not characters created by a writer to tell a story. Definitely worth your time.