Adapted from a short story by Bernhard Schlink, Richard Eyre’s The Other Man (2008) is presented as a psychological thriller in - what else but? - the Hitchcock mold. In truth, it’s a confused and unsatisfying piece of work that squanders a good cast, including Liam Neeson and Laura Linney (here playing husband and wife for the third time following their partnerships as the Proctors on stage and the Kinseys on film). The plot revolves around Neeson’s discovery that his “absent” wife Linney has been having an affair; he heads to Milan to track down the other man (Antonio Banderas) and the bulk of the film focuses on the interplay between these two characters.
As a director Eyre has never seemed particularly at ease with the film medium but this is his shakiest piece of work to date. The themes of love, betrayal and the unknowability of others that are at issue never fully emerge and the film boasts some appalling editing and risible dialogue. It pivots, ultimately, around a piece of with-held information that makes a bit more sense of what has gone before. Yet the revelation comes too late to have anything like the emotional punch it should have. The actors fare poorly too: Neeson communicates torment by excessive shouting, while neither Banderas nor Linney seem to have succeeded in making much sense of their unconvincing characters. Premiered at the London Film Festival in 2008 The Other Man was never given a cinema release in the UK. That’s nothing to hold against a movie; indeed it can be a guarantee of quality. But, in this instance, sadly, it’s not hard to see why.