By Samantha Ofole-Prince
Comedian Chris Rock has long been fascinated by the topic of marriage, fidelity and the battle of the sexes – so fascinated that he chose the topic as the prime territory for his latest directional vehicle, transforming a serious French drama into an edgy, hilarious comedy with "I Think I Love My Wife."
Co-written, directed and produced by Rock and based on the French director Eric Rohmer’s 1972 drama "Chloe in the Afternoon," Rock plays Richard Cooper, a successful banker with a gorgeous wife and two kids. Happily married, he has no intentions of cheating on his wife despite his mischievous imagination, but his faithfulness is tested when an old friend, the free-spirited Nikki (Washington), appears at his office seeking a job reference. Before long, they are meeting every afternoon over drinks and divulging intimate details about themselves and their relationships whilst Richard struggles with the idea of an extra marital affair.
It isn’t easy to remake a subtitled cinema classic, but Rock succeeds in injecting his version, which lightheartedly questions the importance of love and loneliness with a comedic perspective. With three black actors cast in leading roles, the movie slightly differs from the original version which has an all white cast, but Rock still sticks closely to "Chloe in the Afternoon" retaining the films basic structure. In his usual narrative style reminiscent of the successful television show "Everybody Hates Chris", Rock starts off by introducing viewers to his world and the key characters in his life, presenting his actions with commentary. There’s his wife, Brenda, a thirty something year old school teacher, who always cities a reason to avoid sexual intercourse. There’s his home in the suburbs of New York City and his job as the sole black executive at a prestigious investment firm and the women he fantasizes about each day as he commutes to work. Then there are the daily nuances all described with the usual colorful language only fans of the comedian will appreciate. With comical descriptions, stereotypical characters, quirky one-liners and subtle digs at Michael Jackson, the central tension of the film is the choice his character must make between his passion for Nikki and his love for his wife.
The casting is apt in this tale of a bored husband’s flirtation with a titular figure from his past for Washington’s portrayal of Nikki as the sexy seductress, who also happens to be an unpredictable head-case is near perfect. Rock claims he specifically wanted Washington for the role for she is one of the few actresses who is yet to disrobe on screen. "I wanted to have a woman onscreen that once she didn’t have any clothes on it would be an event. I wanted a fresh face and she’s a fresh face and she’s a really good actress and very attractive." It’s also fascinating to see Rock in a role which is a departure from his previous characters and equally fascinating to watch his character with appropriate humorous commentary go through the agonies of his conscience versus his feelings as he traipses around the city with Nikki.
A subtle exploration of infidelity with a moral quandary, "I Think I Love My Wife" is filled with hilarious relatable circumstances that are bound to keep viewers entertained.