The Affair is a 2019 drama based on the Simon Mower novel, The Glass Room. Directed by Julius Sevcík, the film stars Hanna Alström and Carice Van Houten as Liesel and Hana, two women connected by an intimate relationship that spans their lifetime. The women's stories are set against a politically and socially turbulent Czechoslovakia during the 1930s.
Aesthetics. The shot composition by cinematographer Martin Strba is wonderful — the beautiful and simple backgrounds are used to full effect. Vibrant wall design and tastefully large lamps help frame characters in the shot and enhance the look of the film. The art director went for an expensive minimalist look for most of the sets conveying a sense of luxury that is consistent with the characters. When outside, they drive along huge mountains and valleys. When indoors, the high ceilings and large rooms make the people in them appear minuscule. Often when the women are together in their private intimate spaces, do the rooms become just that — small and intimate. The most notable set design choice is the huge windows in the home. They let the beautiful nature act as the most magnificent wallpaper. It enhances the look of every scene it's in. The appearance of the mansion was very important, as it is a major part of the story. It only makes sense that set decoration was taken up by three individuals: Anna Hornofová, Dan Navratil, and Daniel Navrátil. They did a fantastic job and though in the background, quietly stole the show.
Acting. This film is competently acted by everyone involved. Every line and every movement by the actors felt entirely natural. The chemistry between the two leads, Hanna Alström and Carice Van Houten was palpable. Their love for each other was clear from their first scenes and remained believable. The actors were not given too much to do, as this is a slow film. Despite this, they managed to give their all to their performances and it shows in the finished product.
Problems. The greatest sin The Affair commits is being boring. Without reading the novel this picture is based on, it is hard to tell where the dullness comes from. However, if there is a movie adaptation, one would assume the book is not the source of error. In the film version, the characters are not explored deeply enough for the viewer to really care. When they are, it’s through unmoving dialogue scenes. The Affair isn’t lacking conflict, but without characters as a backbone, the conflict falls flat. Why should we care? In addition, our two passive protagonists do not seem to be doing anything for much of the film. There is also a structural problem at play. The film was certainly missing beats that would have better fleshed out a discernible plot. Like many features, The Affair falls apart in the second act and can not pick itself back up for the third. As a result, the film feels like it lasts too long.