When we look at cheating from a ethical perspective it is never nice, it has no positive redeeming value, it is in its absolute raw form something deplorable. But from a moral perspective? Well, there is a layer of ambiguity that rests atop. What if you love two people in all earnest? What if you love one more than the other, and the one is outside of your cookie-cutter romantic life? What if your true love is someone you aren’t with? Isn’t pursuing love morally conscious? Or is it immoral to want something you can’t have? Cheating is never okay, but the road to it is almost always inevitably full of innocent and intense emotions. But like all things complex, what the human mind can’t envisage through self introspection comes in the form of cultural manifestation. Like these movies that deal with the deepest, most nuanced aspects of infidelity. Moments from these movies kill you from within because you recognise the despair infidelity causes, to others, but mostly to your own self.
1. Last Night
The story of married couple Joanna and Michael rips through your soul like a tornado. The movie traverses both physical and emotional cheating, and it unravels humans emotion in an honest way. The love between Joanna and Alex, restrained but so intense hits you more than the abject infidelity doled out by Michael and Laura’s mere sexual transgression. Last Night talks about how sometimes the feeling of love is far worse a malady to your existence than the manifestation of love.
In the middle of most nights, when I can’t sleep I still replay you
Aside from a star cast that spells a blockbuster, the movie takes away the voyeuristic pedestal many people give to cheating. It bares down cheating to an essence of just pure betrayal and it is heartbreaking. It factors in human need and greed, but it also factors in how humans can disrupt their carnal wants but not if their base is of malice.
There’s a moment, there’s always a moment, “I can do this, I can give into this, or I can resist it”, and I don’t know when your moment was, but I bet you there was one.
3. The Descendants
Infidelity in a marriage when you have kids is a trickier business than most other cases of infidelities. Especially if the children are privy to that knowledge. Especially if one spouse learn of it as the other spouse lies comatose. The Descendants talk about the resignation that comes with finding a cheating partner. Usually this resignation isn’t as final as death, but when that is at the cross hairs you really have no way of dealing with what lies in front of you except for acceptance. And forgiveness.
Goodbye, Elizabeth. Goodbye, my love, my friend, my pain, my joy. Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.
Ah, the weird machismo fuelled jealousy that is the centering theme of the movie. Wife falls in love with a younger artsy guy, older husband hates this and proceeds to kill said younger fella (spoilers). What ensues is slightly a mindless affair of rage, hate, and fielding the cops but what is the gut-worthy bit in that for a brief explosion of hormones don’t cheat because you may end up dead or behind bars!
We could end this now and nobody would get hurt
5. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Woody Allen knows his debauchery and promiscuity well, and so he envisages it well too. VCB is like an orgy of emotions. Everyone sleeps with everyone at some point in time, and like a bohemian commune it is all accepted. Except for Rebecca Hall’s Vicky, who is too by the book for cheating but falls so very hard for the very committed but philandering Juan Antonio played by Javier Bardem. This movie unearths that face of cheating which is clueless, powerless, and hopeless.
Maria Elena used to say that only unfulfilled love can be romantic.
6. Take This Waltz
Oftentimes cheating is a result of not your displaced emotions but your displaced life, at least behind the perfect veneer you seem to pretend on with. This is the theme of this movie; the wife is unhappy with her life, even though her husband is shown to be a perfect man however with the entry of a brooding, overtly good looking man, she looks for happiness outside her marriage hoping her despondent days will end. But changing your partner doesn’t automatically make everything better – does it now?!
But after 35 years of being faithful to my husband I think I’ll have earned one kiss from you.