Whether you’ve been with someone for five weeks, five years, or twenty-five years, staying faithful can be difficult. Yes, you love your partner, which is why you’re with them to begin with. That love doesn’t eliminate temptation. Every single day, you’re most likely interacting with members of the opposite sex. Some of those interactions can leave you with feelings… feelings that you may be tempted to act on.
You may feel the need to stray because of a powerful physical attraction. Having a new neighbor, friend, or coworker who you are insanely attracted to is a difficult thing to deal with. There are also emotional reasons why people cheat. You may have lingering feelings for someone from your past, or you may have built an emotional relationship with someone that you now want to physically consummate. Whatever the reason, emotional or physical, we’re just saying that we get the appeal of cheating… but you shouldn’t cheat.
Being unfaithful can lead to so many messy consequences. It can end relationships, or end friendships. It can leave people mad with jealousy. It can push someone to get revenge. There are endless possible consequences when it comes to cheating. Below are 15 movies that explore those consequences. They explore both the emotional and physical consequences of having an affair. Yes, we know that other movies can make affairs seem sexy, but these movies show the unsexy side of cheating.
If you’re feeling the urge to cheat, you should pop on one of these films first and take a cold shower.
15. Fatal Attraction (1987)
Adrian Lyne directed this film and, quite frankly, we could call this list “The Adrian Lyne Movies About Cheating.” Lyne has directed quite a few films about cheating and what exactly it does to a relationship. Of course, we wouldn’t want to give anything away, so you’ll have to keep reading to find out which of his other films made the list.
Moving on from Adrian Lyne and his wonderful direction, we have Fatal Attraction. The film stars Michael Douglas in all of his ‘80s glory. He plays Dan, a married man living in Manhattan. When his wife and daughter are out of town, Dan hooks up with Alex, played by Glenn Close.
Dan spends a weekend with Alex and when he tries to leave she tries to kill herself by cutting her wrists. This should have been his first big red flag. Dan patches Alex up, leaves, and thinks that the whole affair was totally cool. He thinks he’s gotten to have his cake and eat it too. Then Alex goes insane. She starts showing up places and calls Dan’s office and home. She pours battery acid on his car. She watches him and his wife from the bushes outside their home. Oh, it gets worse. Alex kills the family’s pet rabbit and puts it in a pot to boil. This crazy behavior culminates in Dan finally killing Alex.
This is probably the worse case scenario in terms of an affair in real life, but it could happen.
14. Closer (2004)
You may just want to watch Closer because Natalie Portman, the hottest of the hottest, plays a stripper. While that’s a legitimate reason, this film also examines the philosophical reasons that people cheat through some of the most electric dialogue you’ll ever hear.
Based on a play, the film is admittedly slow and unfolds much like a stage production. That aside, the dialogue carries it through as Natalie, Jude Law, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen all fall in love and hurt one another. Natalie and Jude date. Julia and Clive date. Jude and Julia have an affair. Clive and Natalie hook up to get back at them. Jude and Clive have sex via instant messaging. Yes, it’s all very, very complicated, but basically everyone has sex with everyone.
If watching Natalie Portman with a broken heart isn’t a reason not to cheat, I don’t know what is.
13. Last Night (2010)
Last Night is one of those random indie movies you’ve never heard of, but that is actually worth watching.
The film centers on Keira Knightly and Sam Worthington. They are a young, beautiful, rich couple. They not only live in New York, but live in an amazing apartment in the city. Their beauty and luck in life is distracting, but the exploration of infidelity is interesting.
Worthington works with Eva Mendes, who is obviously gorgeous. I mean, any character Eva Mendes ever plays will be beautiful. At a work party, Knightly notices that Worthington is paying a little too much attention to Mendes, as every guy ever standing in a room with Eva Mendes has done. After the party, Knightly confronts her husband, they fight, and then reconcile.
The next day, Worthington and Mendes have to go on a business trip together. At this point, Knightly goes out for coffee and bumps into her old flame. With the husband and wife characters separated, they are presented with two different reasons for cheating: a physical attraction and an emotional attraction. Worthington is attracted to Mendes on a purely physical level – again, it’s Eva friggin’ Mendes. Meanwhile, Knightly is attracted to her ex because of all the emotional baggage between them.
12. American Beauty (1999)
While films like Fatal Attraction, Closer, and Last Night may explore cheating in a big city, American Beauty explores cheating in suburbia. It also explores what pushes people to cheat in suburbia, which is more relatable to the lot of us.
Kevin Spacey stars as Lester Burnham, a man who, on paper, seems to have achieved the American Dream. He owns a house. He has a wife, a daughter (Thora Birch), and a secure job. They have dinner together every night. While having a midlife crisis, repressed Lester starts to fantasize about his daughter’s friend Angela (Mena Suvari). He dreams about her covered in rose petals. Uh, to each their own, I guess. While Lester is dreaming of a teenager in rose petals, Lester’s wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) has an affair with a very successful real estate agent.
The film wonderfully illustrates a couple that is severely disconnected. It is not that they have fallen out of love or that they hate each other, they are just disconnected because of their daily tasks. The hustle of their everyday activities has made them sexually repressed, seeking relief outside of their marriage.
11. Notes On A Scandal (2006)
While many of the entries on this list deal with the emotional ramifications of an affair, Notes on a Scandal is slightly different.
In this film, Cate Blanchett plays an art teacher who strikes up an affair with a 15-year-old student. What could go wrong, right? Since she had a husband, this inappropriate affair puts everything on the line. She could lose her job and her marriage. Judi Dench plays a history teacher at the school who uncovers the affair. Instead of telling anyone about what’s going on, Dench uses the information to manipulate Blanchett, with whom Dench has a budding obsession. Dench’s character seems like your average lonely, old lady but she is actually somewhere between stalker and psychotically clingy.
Eventually, the affair does comes out and Blanchett loses everything in a public shame. There’s a lot going on, what with Dench being crazy. However, it highlights the nature of having a secret. If you have something that you need to keep secret, you can be manipulated by said information. It gives people an edge over you.
10. Unfaithful (2002)
Guys, Unfaithful. If we had to boil this list down to one movie, Unfaithful would be a front-runner. It’s also the second film on this list directed by Adrian Lyne. We told you that he’s obsessed with directing films about infidelity.
How good is this film about infidelity? In Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s character doesn’t want to have an affair simply because of how infidelity is explored in Unfaithful. That’s how hitting this film is. Aziz’s character continuously mentions the snow globe scene, in which Richard Gere murders his wife’s lover with a snow globe. It’s brutal.
While the whole snow globe murder thing is a great reason not to cheat, we must give a shot out to Diane Lane, who plays Gere’s wife. She is seduced by a younger stranger. After engaging sexually with the stranger, she is thrilled by the affair but also hit with deep guilt. The scene in which Lane rides the train after her affair says it all. She’s torn. Her performance is real and truly heartbreaking.
9. Derailed (2005)
Coming out shortly after Friends ended, this dark film was Jennifer Aniston’s attempt to break free of Rachel Green.
Clive Owen stars as an advertising executive, with a wife and daughter. His daughter suffers from diabetes, needing expensive medication and putting a strain on his marriage. Owen meets Aniston, who is also married. They go to a hotel room to hook up, but an armed man breaks in. He beats Owen and rapes Aniston. Because they don’t want their spouses to find out about the affair, they don’t report any of this to the cops.
It doesn’t end there. Much like the issue in Notes on a Scandal, a secret makes you vulnerable. The armed guy starts demanding money from Owen. Blackmail and violence ensues, then Owen realizes he had been conned the whole time. Aniston was in on the scheme, having seduced him in order to milk money from him. Rachel Green would never be so bad!
8. Indecent Proposal (1993)
This is the final film on this list directed by Adrian Lyne. It’s known for its plot, in which a wealthy man offers a couple $1 million for a night with the wife.
The films stars Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson as the married couple. They travel to Vegas in order to win the money they need for Harrelson’s real estate project. Thinking that they were actually going to win money in Vegas was their first mistake. They spend their entire savings… because they’re idiots.
Robert Redford plays a billionaire, who is taken with Moore. He offers the couple $1 million if he can spend the night with Moore. The couple agrees, contracts are signed, and Demi bangs Robert Redford. This is only the beginning. The sexual encounter weighs on the marriage and eventually destroys it, proving that even sex for $1 million can ruin a marriage.
7. The Notebook (2004)
You’re surprised by this entry, aren’t you? Well, you shouldn’t be. There is some red hot infidelity that needs to be addressed here. You know that scene where Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling kiss in the rain? Yes, it’s totally hot and cemented Gosling as a Hollywood stud… but it’s also cheating. Rachel McAdams’ character was engaged at the time.
After spending time together, McAdams prepares to go back home to her life and her fiancé. Gosling pleads with her to stay… again, cementing as a Hollywood stud that all women would forever. While weighing her options, McAdams insists that no matter what she does now, she’s going to hurt someone. This true, and perhaps she should have thought about that before having hot rain sex with Gosling. In an otherwise corny romantic movie, this dramatic scene addresses infidelity in a way that other romances skim over.
6. Election (1999)
First and foremost, you should watch Election for Reese Witherspoon’s performance. She plays Tracy Flick, the ambitious, Type-A high school student running for president. She’s phenomenal in the role.
Earlier in the year, Witherspoon’s Tracy Flick had an affair with a teacher named Dave. This lead to Dave being fired and his wife leaving him, because that’s what happens when you sleep with a student. It doesn’t make light of the situation, showing Dave, a grown man unable to find a job, moving back in with his parents.
Dave’s wife, Linda, is left embarrassed… but also single. Enter Jim (Matthew Broderick), who teaches at the high school and was friends with Dave. He helps out Linda with some of household tasks that are generally considered a man’s job. As Jim performs these manly tasks, an attraction develops between the two. Jim books a hotel room so that they can hook up. Only when Jim shows up at the hotel room, Linda is no where to be found. Instead of meeting him, she confessed the infidelity to Jim’s wife. This leaves Jim, much like Dave, homeless and with a marriage dissolved.
The main plot of the film actually has more to do with the high school’s election, with the infidelity serving as a B-plot. Regardless, it’s a good showcase of the repercussions of having an affair, especially an affair with a student.
5. A Perfect Murder (1998)
A Perfect Murder is a perfect ’90s thriller. Michael Douglas is full-on 90s Douglas. Gwyneth Paltrow is just her willowy WASP self, which was seriously less annoying before the whole lifestyle brand. They play the type of married, New York couple that only exists in movies. He’s a hedge fund manager and she’s somehow worth $100 million. Whatever, we buy it, Hollywood.
Gwyn’s character is having an affair, but she doesn’t know that her lover has a history of tricking rich women out of their money. There’s a lot of plot, but the gist is that Douglas needs money for a hedge fund. He devises a plan in which he pays Gwyn’s lover a nice chunk of change to murder her. Douglas then planned to use Gwyn’s fortune for the hedge fund. Only, things don’t go as planned and, in the end, Gwyn kills Douglas and gets away with it. Goop should totally do a post about how to get away with murder. I’d read that shit.
4. Dial M For Murder (1954)
You should watch Dial M for Murder just because it stars Grace Kelly and was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Grace Kelly has never looked more beautiful and Alfred Hitchcock’s direction is, as always, masterful. While this film has served as inspiration for A Perfect Murder, the plots are different enough to warrant watching both films.
In Dial M for Murder, Grace Kelly plays Margot, a wealthy socialite. Ray Milland plays Tony Wendice, a former professional tennis player, who has since retired. The pair are married and Margot’s money allows them to live a very comfortable life. When Tony realizes that Margot has been having an affair, he pays someone to murder Margot, both for revenge and to ensure that he’ll always have her money.
The murder is botched, as Margot defends herself and kills her attacker. Tony uses this as an opportunity to set her up for murder, resulting in her being sentenced to death. In the end, Margot is saved and Tony’s diabolic plans are revealed, but Margot’s infidelity still did almost end with her dead, twice, by her attacker and death sentence. That’s a pretty good reason not to cheat.
3. He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)
It seems like a harmless romantic comedy, but it’s much more than that. He’s Just Not That Into You follows several different romances through the film, which is part of its charm. Some of the storylines are romantic, while others are more difficult to watch. Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck’s storyline revolves around the fact that he won’t propose. They break up over this, then he proposes in the sweetest way possible. That is some straight-forward happiness. However, not every storyline is so sweet.
In the film, Jennifer Connelly and Bradley Cooper play a married couple, but Connelly’s character is too structured and Cooper’s character is a douchebag… this leads to Cooper cheating on her. Cooper cheats on her with Scarlett Johansson, whose character is so self-involved it’s hard to stomach. Unlike many romantic comedies, this infidelity is not easily swept under the rug. It involves a painfully awkward scene in which ScarJo actually has to hide in a closet and listen to Cooper and Connelly have sex.
2. Anna Karenina (2012)
This film entry is based on a classic book by Leo Tolstoy. We, of course, suggest reading the fine piece of literature for yourself. If you don’t have hours to devote to a Russian novel from the 1800s, there is a nifty movie, too. While the film explores the societal pressures of Russia in the late 1800s, it is also one of the greatest explorations of infidelity ever told.
Since it’s a period piece, it stars Keira Knightly in the title role. Anna is a well off socialite, who seems to have it all. Driven by passion, boredom, or both, she cheats on her husband. It shows how infidelity can lead to wild jealousy, not just by those being cheated on, but also by those cheating. Anna is driven insane with fear that her lover may be moving on from her. Her passions finally culminate in her suicide by jumping in front of a train – y’know, since most great literature ends with suicide.
1. Gone Girl (2014)
Here’s the #1 movie you should watch if you ever feel the urge to cheat on your loved one: Gone Girl.
Gone Girl tells the love story between Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike). They were the perfect New York couple – smart, beautiful, and a living in brownstone in Brooklyn. They had it all, until they lost it all. After losing their jobs and their savings, they moved to Missouri and their marriage suffers.
The boredom of Missouri and weight of their marriage causes Nick to stray. Then Amy disappears. When the police investigate her disappearance, all signs point towards her being murdered… and Nick being the one who killed her. Nick is going to jail for killing his wife. It’s all over the media.
Midway through the movie, we learn that Amy isn’t dead at all. She was just so angry Nick cheated on her that she set him up for her murder. She meticulous faked her death just to punish her husband for cheating… that’s what cheating on someone can make them do.
Lesson Learned: If you cheat on a hot psychopath, she will fake her own murder in order to frame you. Do not underestimate a blonde.