The 400-Word Review: Fatal Affair
By Sean Collier
July 18, 2020
You’re pretty sure you know what you’re getting into with a movie called “Fatal Affair.” Sometimes, you’re just looking for an opportunity to yell encouragement at the television so that a nice woman doesn’t get herself murdered.
It’s a reliable old TV-movie formula, and while Netflix is more interested in presenting features that act as though they might’ve played on the big screen, they also know their viewers. And sometimes, those viewers — a category that at this point includes all of us, more or less — just want to lay on the couch and not think too hard.
The main character you’ll barely think about is Ellie Warren (Nia Long), a successful California lawyer. She’s got a supportive, if slightly dispassionate, husband (Stephen Bishop) and an impossibly perfect college-aged daughter (Aubrey Cleland). She’s about to set up her own private practice, but she first must wrap up a big case at her shark-tank law firm. That final bit of business involves working with an elite hacker, David Hammond (Omar Epps), who happens to be an old friend of Ellie’s from college.
Note that Hammond is elite enough to falsify phone records, but not so savvy that he doesn’t know better than to leave a bunch of evidence on his desktop behind only an easily guessed password.
That will come later. First, however, Ellie and David head out for the night to catch up; after plenty of drinks, the old friends find themselves on the verge of a bit of adultery. Ellie thinks better of it, but not before going far enough that she’d prefer to keep the dalliance a secret.
Unfortunately, David is a bit rough around the edges, particularly when it comes to relationships. More unfortunately, he’s been obsessed with Ellie for decades; his mysteriously deceased ex-wife was a dead ringer for Ellie, and he’s not inclined to let his perceived second chance pass by.
Nearly nothing about “Fatal Affair” distinguishes it from the pack, especially not the absent-minded direction of Peter Sullivan; his previous flick in this sandbox, “Secret Obsession,” was like “Fatal Affair” but much worse. Fortunately, Long is easy to root for and Epps seems to have fun in the villain role. You couldn’t call this movie good with a straight face, and it has a shaky relationship with logic. As a lazy afternoon semi-thriller, though, it does exactly what it says on the tin.
My Rating: 5/10
“Fatal Affair” is streaming on Netflix.