Fred (Anthony Cortese) and Deb (Christine Tizzard) are in a sexually frustrated marriage. While Fred finds his sexual release in masturbatory fantasies and porn, Deb is engaging in seemingly harmless flirting via the internet. Which is about all either of them seemingly have time for, as Deb is busy with her career as sole financial provider and Fred is a frustrated, currently unemployed novelist battling with writer’s block. Plus they have a kid, Jack (Evan Gilchrist), who might as well be invisible.
When Deb’s brother, and Fred’s best friend, O’Keefe (Kevin Kincaid), inadvertantly introduces Fred to the world of internet dating and online affairs, it sparks Fred’s interest. At the same time, Deb is doing the same thing, to varying degrees of “success.”
Webdultery is a frightening film if you’re married. Unlike many a domestic drama, this isn’t a film where two people are at each other’s throats every two seconds, screaming at each other. Instead it’s a slow, quiet erosion of the relationship. It’s a broken marriage because neither seems capable of mentioning what is truly bothering them honestly. Instead, they seek their happiness elsewhere.
While there are humorous moments around the duo’s escapades, they’re mostly played with a dry tone, which keeps the film primarily a domestic drama. For the laughs, the film employs O’Keefe. A swinging ladies man, he’s vulgar, gross and entertaining, but at a certain point he becomes the moral traffic light. When activities of both Fred and Deb become clear to him, he’s the one most disturbed, for his own role in many an affair, and in his place inbetween the problems of his extended family.
As far as the technical aspects go, the film is absolutely fine. The image is crisp, and the film makes good use integrating the online messaging sequences into the image so that we’re not just staring over someone’s shoulders as they type on a screen. Instead, the conversations become framed around and within the image in a way that underscores the emotions of who we’re looking at. Because, again, these aren’t people who are coming right out and discussing their problems openly, so when the text conveys their true thoughts, it’s interesting to see their emotions played out in their otherwise silence.
On the narrative side, they’re aren’t too many surprises (one of the major elements of the plot had a variation portrayed recently in a Family Guy episode, for example), but it still works as it is. And I can’t help but wonder if AshleyMadison.com was active product placement in the film, or if it just made sense to reference the site as often as they do. Either way, the site almost deserves a cameo credit in the cast.
Overall, though, Webdultery is a solid film about a tough subject to cover, marriage infidelity, especially when there’s no “good” side to get behind. Neither Deb nor Fred are particularly awful to the other person, the flame has just been slowly suffocating. Their marriage isn’t failing for the obvious dramatic reasons we see in film, and that makes it more relatable and, most likely, more common. Which is terrifying if you’re married.
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