The Love Affair begins with Vince (Richard Gomez) walking into a party to find his wife Patricia (Dawn Zulueta) in an intimate moment with his best friend Greg. Despite his wife insisting that she didn't actually cheat, Vince loses it and decides he wants to end things. He ends up meeting lawyer Adie (Bea Alonzo), who has just found out that her boyfriend of ten years is cheating on her. The two bond over their troubles, and grow close as they both try to mend their broken hearts.
This is ostensibly a story about three people, but the reality is that this is just the story of the man. It's only his choices that matter in the end, while the women are on the sides waiting in bated breath to be chosen. Despite displaying behavior that makes him out to be a real scumbag, Vince continues to be the big prize of this film, the one person that the movie deems worth pursuing. The film's gutless narrative ultimately doesn't get very deep into the psychology of an affair, or the consequences of a traumatic event in a marriage. It just goes through the motions of this tired genre, building to lurid thrills in spite of the supposed seriousness of the drama.
This is a really weird film. The weirdness begins early, with the insistence that Patricia hasn't actually cheated on Vince. His anger never feels totally justified, which makes it difficult to feel anything for him as he goes through his emotional journey. Perhaps this would have worked better if we actually thought that there was a real dilemma for Patricia, but the film makes it clear pretty early on that she truly loves her husband, and that the "affair" wasn't actually a threat. We never see what she got out of the supposed extramarital relationship, and so this supposedly major conflict that kicks off the plot never actually seems like a big deal.
The film then moves on to sketching out Adie and her relationship with Vince, which mostly involves the two of them going sailing. Adie is a bizarre person who receives harassment from a prospective employer and still ends up wanting to work for him. Because apparently, she needs to learn to loosen up or whatever, because apparently refusing to go sailing when one doesn’t have any experience is the wrong thing to do. Anyway, the movie doesn't make much of a case for Vince and Adie being together, and so there's never any real dramatic tension. It doesn’t help that Alonzo and Gomez have no chemistry with each other. It all feels overblown, Adie ultimately fighting for a tryst that has no real substance behind it. Not that she actually has a say in how all this goes down. The film provides neat resolutions for everybody, but the truth is that none of these characters had enough agency to make these endings feel earned.
The real meat of this story is in exploring what actually went down between the married couple, what it is in their past that has escalated a misunderstanding into a full blown war. And here the film truly falters. It provides personal tragedy as the source of the rift, but it doesn't let the characters deal with that trauma in any meaningful way. They each get flashbacks, neither one providing much insight into their inner lives. They talk to people separately about how they felt at the time, but never to each other. The film has them magically mending fences, with the wife being made to give up something she loves, while the husband basically has to give his approval.
The Love Affair just doesn’t enough guts to get interesting. It wastes time with empty explanations and lengthy backstories meant to justify the behavior of the characters. It runs away from the really juicy parts of this story, likely as a means of keeping these characters “relatable.” But it all just makes all the conflict feel bizarre. The movie spends so much time trying to make the situation seem reasonable that it makes the characters look ridiculous when they get all angry about it. And at its core, the movie presents a painfully archaic view of gender roles that keeps all the options in the hands of the man, while the women pine for him in the sidelines, giving up their dreams and their dignity in the hopes of being the one chosen in the end.