It's often a very difficult thing to save a marriage, especially if only one partner is bothering to work at it. In Faithful, that one is Lauren (Clarissa Hoffmann), a woman still madly in love with her husband Ron (Ellis Miller), in spite of the fact that he seems nothing but indifferent towards her and is utterly caught up in his relationship with another woman (Sarah Schulte). But the more he drifts away the more determined Lauren is to hang onto him, even though she knows about the affair.

Much to the horror of her best friend and fellow student Mary-Ann (Cynthia Aileen Strahan), Lauren has taken the drastic step of quitting medical school even though she's always dreamt of becoming a doctor. But she and Ron can't work on their marriage if they never see each other, she reasons, and she seems oblivious to the fact that she's already in this relationship all by herself.

Somehow she persuades Ron to go with her to counseling, but he's equally unwilling to work with the therapist (Eddy Lee) and Lauren is growing more and more upset and desperate. Mary-Ann and Lauren's mother, Mrs. Clarice (Eve Coquillard), are united in their concern over Lauren's increasingly fragile state but are at a loss as to what to do. When the situation inevitably reaches a crisis they're forced to intervene even though there may be quite literally nothing either of them can do to help.

Faithful is a quietly gripping look through Lauren's eyes at her failing marriage and crumbling self-esteem, and it's hard to say which is doing more damage, It's painful to see her demanding that Ron tell her what she's done wrong, as though his affair was solely designed to punish her for once having forgotten his birthday. But at times we'd all like to think that there's one clear-cut thing that needs to be fixed and then our relationships with lovers or family members will miraculously be fine again -- it's just that Lauren has taken this hope to the extreme and can't let go, of either the idea or of Ron.

I'll give it four and a half out of five. The build of tension is expertly handled and the ending surprising yet deftly foreshadowed, Hoffmann's performance is the epitome of a woman putting a brave face on her life while Strahan as loyal friend Mary-Ann adds a refreshing dose of normalcy even as she struggles to work out how to help. It's a story that's both nightmarish and all too real,

Poster for Faithful. Betrayal is a rough thing to face,


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