“The Other Man”
 
 
            This is a movie that should have worked better than it did.  The cast is extraordinary:  Liam Neeson plays Peter, the cuckolded (does anybody use that word any more?) husband, and Antonio Banderas (looking somewhat gaunt and foppish) is Ralph (pronounced “Rafe”), “the other man.”
            Peter finds out about Ralph before Ralph knows that he knows.  Peter, the very successful owner of some unspecified business with a big executive suite, is able to use his security personnel to track calls received on his wife’s cell phone.  He journeys from England to Milan , Italy , where he discovers that his wife’s paramour is a….janitor.  OK, actually more of a maintenance man with a basement office, but he is a charmer, all right.  He dresses in a suit and a tie to go to a fancy coffee shop every afternoon to play chess.  Peter strikes up a conversation, then challenges him to a game, and they wind up as regular competitors, using the time clocks, even.
            Peter’s extended absence has attracted the attention of his grown daughter, Abigail (Romola Garai), whose live-in boyfriend Peter doesn’t like, so he doesn’t see her that often.  Abigail confronts her father at the point of his relentless detective work, and tells him that he needs to let it go.  This, of course, only makes him wonder if she knew when he didn’t, which then makes him wonder who else knew, like his wife’s co-workers.  Storming that office doesn’t get him very far.  So he continues to pursue the chess match-dance with Ralph, finally replying to an e-mail on his wife’s laptop to ask the paramour for a meeting.  Imagine Ralph’s surprise when Peter shows up instead.   
            The time sequences in this film are confusing to the viewer, and there seems to be a couple of scenes that are misplaced or edited poorly.  Neeson is good at intense, but it’s not a charming role.  Banderas, normally playing the jaunty, smiling adventurer, here seems oddly diminished, and starting to look his age.  Garai is a real beauty, commanding the screen with her presence, but her role is unglamorous and limited.  And as for the lovely Laura Linney, the love interest of both men, well, she’s puzzlingly underutilized, as well.
            This movie could have just soared, but even with the veteran star actors, it barely gets off the ground, and mostly just sputters.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas