Most people find cheating to be a rather icky thing to do. No matter how you feel about monogamy, it’s pretty awful to lie to your partner and violate their trust by getting involved with someone behind their back. Of course, while most of us would hate to find ourselves in this romantic situation in real life, movies are a much different story.
Even the most loyal among us sometimes like to indulge in films about affairs. Maybe it’s getting lost in a fantasy you know you would hate to fulfil in real life, or just the general excitement that comes from the movie’s illicit love (or, often, straight-up sex). Whatever your reason for sitting through a film about a not-so-neat affair, there’s more than enough movies to satisfy the urge. Hollywood adores some steamy adultery, so don’t feel guilty about enjoying this genre.
So what affair movies are top-notch? These movies range from romances to thrillers, but each one has something in common: They’re totally extra (-marital, that is.) Click through to see which ones you should watch when the mood strikes.
The Graduate (1967)Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson. Newcomer Dustin Hoffman’s performance as Benjamin, a disaffected 21-year old who embarks upon an affair with an older woman, may have helped kickstart his career, but it’s Bancroft’s nuanced performance as the infamous Mrs. Robinson that makes her the real MVP of this movie. “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” is still one of the most iconic lines in film history.
Betrayal (1983)The movie opens in a pub, where ex-lovers Jerry (Jeremy Irons) and Emma (Patricia Hodge) hash out the events of their seven-year-long affair. A literary agent, Jerry was the best friend of Emma’s husband, a well-to-do English publisher.
Told in nine segments in reverse chronological order, the film’s a careful portrait of the choices we make and the repercussions they have.
American Beauty (1999)For years, Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) thought adhering to the capitalist American dream would bring happiness. When he finds he’s still empty on the inside, Lester decides to reinvent himself as a responsibility-shirking teenager. Along the way, Lester’s pulled into a heavy flirtation with Angela (Mena Suvari), his daughter’s seductive best friend. The affair doesn’t go places, but Lester’s imagination does, including the iconic scene of Angela floating in rose petals.
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)In this steamy Mexican film, a pair of 20-something best friends take a road trip with a mysterious older woman. Along the way, the boys’ loyalties to their girlfriends are tested through the trip’s ever-increasing sexual tension. Then, it’s revealed that both boys have slept with each other’s girlfriends — so all bets for fidelity are off.
Indecent Proposal (1993)Beware turning your marriage into a money-making scheme. After a financial crisis hits David Murphy (Woody Harrelson) and his wife, Diana (Demi Moore), hard, they turn to Vegas to win big gambling. When, surprise surprise, gambling falls through, the couple is offered one last ray of financial hope through a mysterious billionaire (Robert Redford). He’ll give the couple $1 million dollars — if he can spend a night with Diana.
The English Patient (1996)During the final days of WWII in Italy, a French-Canadian nurse sits with a severely burned patient. Through his intense bandages, the patient begins to weave a story of the great affair, adventure, and tragedy he had while a cartographer in Africa recently. Key takeaway from the gorgeous and ornate film: best wait for the discreetness of a city to start an affair, because it’s easy to get caught in a desert.
Match Point (2005)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson play adulterers in this Woody Allen thriller. Though their romance is peppered with steamy kisses in the rain, ultimately, the film ends…well, not so well for everyone involved.
If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking. Such is the premise of Mike Nichols’ affair drama, which entangles two couples into one another’s lives with devastating consequences. Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, and Julia Roberts give performances that are as excellent as they are heartbreaking. This stellar film also gave us this now iconic phrase: “lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off, but it’s better if you do”, which incidentally went on to inspire a Panic! At The Disco song.
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Some hot affairs fizzle out. Others end with your daughter’s pet bunny in a pot on the stove. (Ugh, nightmares for days.) While you might not fantasise about this affair, you’ll be hooked, and likely terrified, by Glenn Close’s portrayal of the obsessed Alex.
This movie, a remake of the 2003 French film Nathalie, features Amanda Seyfried in a role far darker than some of the rom-com heroines she’s played. Here, she’s a manipulative call girl named Chloe, whom suspicious wife Catherine (Julianne Moore) hires to tempt her husband (Liam Neeson) to see if he has been unfaithful. Things get more complicated when Catherine is seduced herself.
Same Time, Next Year (1978)Each year, George (Alan Alda) and Doris (Ellen Burstyn) reunite at a small California inn to have a one-night affair. The ritual began in 1951, and they haven’t missed a meeting, despite marriage and children. Over the years, they develop an intimacy that runs like a current through their personal hardships, and sustains them.