8 Best Infidelity Movies on HBO Max (April 2024)

According to multiple world religions, adultery or infidelity is a sin, and the people who commit it are bound for hell. It makes sense, given those same religions regard marriage as “sacred.” As religion influences society by serving as one of its cornerstones, adultery is also considered a social taboo. Even in modern times, where the progressive movement has made society, as a whole, more open-minded and accepting, adultery still has that negative connotation. Perhaps the main reason is that adultery is believed to be an embodiment of chaos as it threatens to break families, a collection of which makes up a society. If the families fall, society will inevitably follow suit.

It is this sense of illicitness that excites any artist most about adultery. It has found its way into every branch of art we produce — from painting to sculpture, poetry, prose, films, and TV. The artistic approach to infidelity has been quite diverse, and the following movies on HBO Max explore the topic from all angles: celebrating it, condemning it, or exploring the space between those extremes.

8. Blood Simple (1984)

Directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, the events of the film take place in Texas. We meet bar owner Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya), who hires the services of a shady divorce detective Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh), to kill the former’s wife Abby (Frances McDormand) and her lover Ray (John Getz), who is a bartender at Marty’s bar. This is the second time Marty hires Visser after having used him to get photographic evidence of Abby and Ray being together. But this time, Visser has a plan of his own that he intends to carry out for his own “profit.” This leads to a string of unexpected events, which are sometimes deadly, underscored by misunderstandings and wrong assumptions. To find out what they are, you can stream ‘Blood Simple’ here.

7. Knife in the Water (1962)

The first feature film directed by Roman Polanski, this Polish psychological thriller stars Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, and Zygmunt Malanowicz. It follows a couple, Andrzej and Krystyna, who encounter a hitchhiker on their way to a lake. They take him along on their sailing trip. However, things get tense on the boat between Andrzej and the hitchhiker as both try to prove themselves as the alpha male in front of Krystyna. And when the hitchhiker’s pocket knife enters the scene, things turn risky. The hiker ends up in the water and cannot be found. Andrzej leaves to get the police, and that’s when he returns to the boat that has only Krystyna in it. To find out what happens then, you can watch this critically acclaimed film right here.

6. The Boy Next Door (2015)

Directed by Rob Cohen, ‘The Boy Next Door’ stars Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, and John Corbett. The story revolves around a recently divorced mother, Claire Peterson (Lopez), whose new neighbor, Noah (Guzman), a teenager, seems to like her more than usual. She, too, gives in to his flirting one night when things get intense, and she surrenders to his seduction and ends up having sex with him. Then, when Claire makes it clear that whatever happened between them was a mistake, Noah reveals his unhinged side that is bent on having her all to himself by any means necessary, including murder. To find out if Claire finds a way to escape from the psychopath, you can stream the film here.

5. Love in the Afternoon (1972)

‘Love in the Afternoon’ or ‘L’Amour l’après-midi’ (also known as ‘Chloe in the Afternoon’) is a French film by Éric Rohmer. It is the sixth and final entry in Rohmer’s ‘Six Moral Tales’ series. The plot revolves around Frédéric Carrelet (Bernard Verley), who, like Michael, is in a relatively happy marriage with his wife, Hélène. They have one child together, and Hélène is pregnant with the second. Frédéric often thinks about his life before marriage, and one day, he encounters a person he thought he would never see again. Chloé was the girlfriend of one of his closest friends when they were younger. She broke the friend’s heart. At present, Frédéric and Chloé form a unique relationship. She provides him with emotional comfort while he takes care of her financially, but neither actively pursues a sexual relationship, at least not initially. You can watch ‘Love in the Afternoon’ here.

4. Le Bonheur (1965)

‘Le Bonheur’ or ‘Happiness’ is a French film directed by Agnès Varda that received the Jury Grand Prix at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival. A horror film neatly wrapped in sunshine and rainbows, ‘Le Bonheur’ follows François, a happily married family man. He meets Émilie, and despite the limitless contentment he enjoys with his wife Thérèse and their two children, François begins an affair with Émilie, who physically resembles Thérèse, though the former appears to be more independent. You may watch the film here.

3. Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Adapted from Zoë Heller’s 2003 eponymous novel, ‘Notes on a Scandal’ revolves around an elderly single woman, Barbara, and a married woman, Sheba, both of whom are teachers at a London comprehensive school. Sheba has recently joined, whereas Barbara is on the verge of retiring. When Barbara finds out about Sheba’s sexual affair with a 15-year-old male student, she decides to use it to her advantage rather than get Sheba suspended. Moreover, Barbara has reservations about being asked about her female friends, something she only shares with her secret diary. How her reservation and her newfound intention with Sheba are connected is what we find out in this subtle, powerful psychological drama. Nominated for multiple Oscars, ‘Notes on a Scandal’ is directed by Richard Eyre and stars Judi Dench as Barbara and Cate Blanchett as Sheba. You can watch the film here.

2. Killing Me Softly (2002)

This erotic thriller follows Alice (Heather Graham), whose steamy affair with mountain climber Adam (Joseph Fiennes) takes a questionable turn after Alice starts to receive warnings in the form of phone calls and letters asking her to get away from Adam. This happens after she marries him, which makes her more susceptible to Adam. Moreover, Alice finds that there’s more to Adam’s sister, Deborah (Natascha McElhone), than meets the eye and that she may have an answer. But is it the answer she wants? ‘Killing Me Softly,’ directed by Chen Kaige, is a twisted tale of love and obsession that will take you by surprise (shock). You can stream it here.

1. In the Mood for Love (2000)

Directed by Wong Kar-wai, ‘In the Mood for Love‘ is a cinematic masterpiece that delicately examines the themes of infidelity and repressed desire. Set in 1960s Hong Kong, the film’s plot revolves around two neighbors, played by Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, who suspect their spouses of infidelity and form a close bond while grappling with their own suppressed emotions. This tale of unfulfilled love is beautifully portrayed through stunning cinematography and evocative music, capturing its characters’ silent longing and restraint. Wong Kar-wai’s direction, along with the mesmerizing performances by Leung and Cheung, makes ‘In the Mood for Love’ an exquisite exploration of the intricate dance between fidelity and temptation. You can watch the movie here.

Read More: Best Infidelity Movies on Hulu