Fatal Affair Is Obsessed With Insert Shots

Nia Long and Omar Epps in Fatal Affair (2020)
Nia Long and Omar Epps in Fatal Affair (2020)
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me—oh wait, you are, technically, because you’re reading my words right now. Hey there. Sit down and get comfortable.


I’ve prepared you for this day. Well, I specifically prepared those of you who follow my Trailer Roundup series in which I told you—based on the trailer alone—that this film would end up on Negro Noir. Why? Because the entire plot for this movie is in the trailer.

That movie? Netflix’s Fatal Affair. The film stars Nia Long, Omar Epps and Stephen Bishop. A woman, Ellie (Long), is in an unfulfilling and sexless marriage. She reunites with her old friend, David (Epps), from back in the day. They almost sex each other up. The old friend becomes obsessed and stalks her. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

So, the movie starts with a woman who isn’t Ellie (portrayed by KJ Smith) who suddenly discovers her white husband murdered in the tub (because of Black supremacy) and a mysterious guy (who we all know is David, come on) snatches her off frame.

Cut to the present day and we’re in the bedroom with Ellie and her husband, Marcus (Bishop). Each of them are lying on opposite ends of the bed, which is how every movie lets you know that each of their nether regions are as neglected as that errant bottle of nutmeg you bought in 2002 that has since been pushed to the back of the cabinet because you kept buying more bottles of nutmeg, forgetting that you already had nutmeg. SMH.

Anyway, shit pops off pretty damn fast. The inciting incident (i.e., the shit that makes shit pop off) is immediate as fuck. But, before I get there…


You may have noticed the term “insert shots” in the headline and if you’re not a filmmaker, film student, film savant or otherwise part of film Twitter, you may not know what the hell that is. If you’ve watched any movie ever, you’ve definitely seen them before; but you may not know the term for it. That’s why I’m here, boo!

According to Studio Binder:

An insert shot is any shot that’s sole purpose is to focus the viewer’s attention to a specific detail within a scene. These shots are often placed from the point of view of a character, suggesting that we see what the character sees during a moment of concentration.


So, for example, if you see a character looking at their wedding ring, then in the next shot, there is a close-up of their hand wearing the wedding ring—that’s an insert shot. I use these specific examples because there is probably 52 fucking shots of Ellie’s hands framed in a way so that you see her wedding ring in this movie. You know, so you know she’s married! Unhappily—but, married all the same. Typically insert shots are used to highlight an important detail that the audience should know. Oh, but not in this rebellious film! The inserts are there to show you...stuff exists, I guess. Kind of like the extraneous exposition that spills out of each and every character’s respective mouth.

Alas, Ellie reunites with David who has been hired as a hacker at the fancy schmancy real estate firm where she works as a lawyer, though she’d rather have her own office and focus on smaller matters. She ends up doing that at some point in the film and Estelle—who my cousin initially thought was Molly from Insecure because they apparently shared a wig—is her assistant.


As soon as I saw David talking to a therapist, I knew he’d be diagnosed with something in a way that suggests whoever researched the term just skimmed Wikipedia and arbitrarily deemed it so for an antagonist in the story to explain their antagonistic behavior...which, unfortunately happens in the media a lot. And during BIPOC Mental Health Month (previously known as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month), too! This time it’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder. OK.

David starts to wear the same exact wardrobe as the creepy stalkers from the dramatizations on those I.D. channel television shows and infiltrates every part of Ellie’s life, including befriending her husband, dating her friend, and sneaking into her house to sniff her Fenty. Oh, and by the way, they have a daughter visiting home from college who...supposedly should serve as the device for which the stakes are raised in the film, since David threatens their whole family, but no one tries hard enough for me to care. The movie reaches a climax where Ellie (and her thriller wig) and David have a standoff and Marcus is completely useless. I know this is supposed to be a gender-reversed Obsessed, but at least Beyoncé fought for her man and child. Ellie is basically just as useless, as she keeps hitting David with shit only to immediately run to her husband without checking to see if David is actually knocked out or better yet, dead. David eventually falls off the Pride Rock cliff, though. Bye.


Also, here are Things That Are Mentioned, Highlighted Or Hinted At And Never Heard From Again:

  1. Marcus’ injury, which had the most boring backstory ever because it was never actually revealed to be what I thought it was, which is that David was driving the truck that ran him over because he had been so upset at the fact that Ellie got away.
  2. The daughter’s boyfriend who has some white boy’s name I can’t think of who met her parents but was killed and the daughter didn’t really care past her initial scream.
  3. Michael Ealy was originally cast as David, but he turned it down.

Okay, the third one is a lie, but would it be any more ridiculous than this movie actually is?


By the way, the trailer uses Joe’s “All The Things (Your Man Won’t Do)” because David’s character is essentially Joe, but the movie actually uses “Forget Me Nots” by Patrice Rushen, instead (which also gets the creepy Us trailer treatment).

Please don’t send me “forget me nots” for this film. I do not want help to remember any of this. As Kelli from Insecure (see how I brought it back to Insecure so smoothly?!) said, “Remember me different.”


Fatal Affair is currently streaming on Netflix.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.


Lord Whistledown

I just watched this trailer an hour ago and my three thoughts were

1. Damn, who missed the opportunity to cast Larenz Tate in this to make it feel like a Love Jones sequel gone wrong?

2. Did I direct this? It’s shot messy with too many ECUs, insert shots and flat cinematography.

3. Why they show the entire plot in the trailer?