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George C. Scott
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Even A More Clearly Audible Dialogue Track Would Not Be Able To Redeem This Work From Its Descent Into A Depressing Shambles.
The framework that supports the concept for this psychosexual melodrama collapses due to a weakly organized script, erratic acting and direction, and flawed sound editing, preventing a sensible development of the plot. Action opens with brief sequences establishing the principals at their workplaces, Peter Hill (Stephen Lack), an unmarried professor of psychology (he mentions R.D. Laing to his class), and Michelle Keys (Sally Kellerman), a married child doctor of psychiatry whose specialty is children in states of crises, with the two soon meeting in traumatic fashion by accident through a head on automobile crash. It is intended for viewers to believe that, during subsequent litigatory procedures relative to the collision, Peter and Michelle fall in love, although the treatment of this mutual attraction seems to be quite perfunctory, a door being held open for the pair by a simple artifice of an out-of-town business trip taken by Michelle's husband Frank (Lawrence Dane). Peter senses that Michelle may have a penchant toward sexual fantasy; whereupon, after very minimal coercion of her, he becomes extensively engaged in exploiting Michelle's natural amourousness, she having become repressed by her uneventful marriage with Frank. The sexual games become increasingly aberrant, exacerbated by a cruel, indeed, sadistic streak in Peter, but Michelle seems capable of adjusting to her quaint situation, although her marriage, career, and even life itself, are in hazard. A cardinal cause of this film's failure to please is that, amidst the messy sexual posturing, a viewer learns next to nothing of who Peter and Michelle are and, worse, is apt to care little about what may happen to either. Additionally, actual physical chemistry between the players is wanting, a significant drawback for a film of this type, principally because of Lack's lustreless performance, noteworthy in the main for a remarkably narrow octave range. Poor sound quality is in evidence throughout, the throaty intonations of Kellerman often difficult to understand, although she certainly works with zeal at her role. John Huston plays as Peter's father and shamelessly mugs; however, often trite dialogue within the episodic screenplay is no help, and neither is an obtrusive and oft inappropriate score that, when conjoined with tepid direction, only serves to highlight the film's depressing nature. Along with Kellerman's genuine effort, there is also an interesting single scene turn from James Kidnie as an undercover vice officer, with acting honours going to Dane who is impressive in an underwritten role. The strongest production values here come from the film editing and the consistently creative cinematography and setups by Anthony Richmond; unfortunately, these boons can not prevent the film, titled FATAL ATTRACTION for its video release, from turning into an unsavoury muddle.
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