Adulterers: Is the 2016 Movie Inspired by the Story of an Actual Marriage?

Originally titled ‘Avouterie,’ the 2016 crime thriller film ‘Adulterers,’ directed by H.M. Coakley, delves into the effects of infidelity on a marriage. On the day of his first marriage anniversary, Samuel Dueprey, a loving and caring husband, finds his wife, Ashley, cheating on him with another man, Damien Dexter Jackson. Following the discovery, Sam goes into a frenzied state that compels him to hold Ashley and Damien hostage at gunpoint while he plays judge, jury, and executioner for their sin.

The film proposes a troubling but realistic story by centering its base premise around an extramarital affair and its violent consequences. With only three characters that influence the plot in any way, the narrative creates an intimate closed-off environment that solely focuses on Sam, Ashley, and Damien and presents a character analysis for them. Given the story’s plausible storyline, viewers might be curious to know if ‘Adulterers’ is based on true events. Let’s find out!

H.M. Coakley’s Family Story Behind Adulterers

‘Adulterers’ is based on a true story. The film is written and directed entirely by H.M. Coakley, who reportedly shared that his inspiration behind the movie came from something that had happened to one of his family members. The incident made the filmmaker wonder what he would do if he found himself in the same boat, which led to the creation of ‘Adulterers.’ Since essentially the film is an exploration of Sam’s own what-if scenario, it’s safe to assume many some of Sam’s character traits are based on Coakley and his ideas.

In that sense, the film is based on a true story, as it claims to be in the opening sequence. Still, it’s important to note that the exact series of events depicted within the narrative have no tangible connections to reality. As such, the characters of Sam, Ashley, and Damien are fictional and aren’t based on real people.

Nevertheless, given the film’s subject matter, the characters have some roots in reality. According to HackSpirit, an organization revolving around relationships, in a journal about Marriage and Divorce, it was estimated that 70% of Americans cheat at least once in their marriage. Although there is a myriad of differing information available regarding infidelity, considering its unpredictable and subjective nature, most studies agree that it’s a socially abundant phenomenon.

As such, a lot of the audience is able to relate to one of the three characters and draw their own conclusions about their morality. Due to the same, the film crafts a narrative that invites empathy and criticism from the audience with helps them connect to the material. Religious themes, particularly Christian beliefs on adultery as discussed in The Bible, also form another significant aspect of the film. The same further helps the film appeal to a specific demographic.

Over the years, Hollywood has seen numerous movies revolving around the topic of cheating, with varying degrees of similarities to the ‘Adulterers.’ The infamous 1969 French film ‘The Unfaithful Wife’ (‘La Femme Infidèle’ in the original dub), directed by Claude Chabrol, follows a similar story about betrayal and violence fueled by a wife’s affair. Likewise, other films like the 2002 thriller ‘Unfaithful‘ and the 1981 romance drama ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’ also feature stories about unfaithful wives that lead to violence.

Lastly, the film also reflects the real-life issue of men resorting to cold-blooded murder after learning about their female partner’s affair. Recently in April 2023, Pedro Grajalez, a 52-year-old man, stabbed his girlfriend, Nilda Rivera, to death for cheating on him before taking pictures of her gruesome corpse. Similarly, Peter Nash was found guilty of murdering his wife, Jillu Nash, and daughter Louise. Nash tried to justify his crime during the trial by citing his wife’s infidelity.

Although these crimes have no connection to Coakley’s film, they offer a parallel between ‘Adulterers’ and reality. Ultimately, the film is very loosely based on a true story. However, only in the sense that it portrays a man’s imagination of what he would have done after his wife betrays him, something that the director wondered about. In all other regards, the film’s events and characters are fictional.

Read More: Adulterers Ending, Explained: Did Sam Imagine The Whole Thing?