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Fatal Attraction
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Fatal Attraction More at IMDbPro »

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74 out of 89 people found the following review useful:

Justifiably one of the most talked-about movies ever

Author: moviefan08 (moviefan08@yahoo.com)
7 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***



There are a handful of movies out there that have become so ingrained in our collective dialogue as an American society, it's practically a crime to have not seen them. If you haven't experienced the joy of Casablanca, you probably haven't seen from where "Here's looking at you, kid" originally came. Ever heard someone make jokes about quarter pounders with cheese in France? That's Pulp Fiction, ladies and gentlemen. Ever have anyone make you an "offer you can't refure?" Well, that person's seen The Godfather. Ever had a former one-night stand try to inflict long-running physical and psychological pain on you and your family? Err...probably not, but if you haven't seen 1987's Fatal Attraction, you're missing out on one of the biggest pop-culture phenomenons of recent decades.

Because of Swimfan and other subpar (but, in Swimfan's case, guiltily entertaining) efforts of tribute and homage, the plot of Fatal Attraction (and maybe even its ending) is obvious before the movie even starts. Adrian Lyne's (last year's magnificent Unfaithful) film is about Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), a New York lawyer with an attractive wife (Anne Archer) and little girl who takes a walk on the wild side one weekend and has a passionate liason with an originally casual acquaintance, Alex Forrest (Glenn Close). Dan wants it all to be over right afterwards, but Alex doesn't let him cut it off that quickly. Dan begins being harrassed by Alex in mounting forms of revenge that eventually reach his family - and become deadly (cheesy writing, huh?). Alex's continual acts of vengeance aren't easy to fight back against, though, for Dan must try to keep his secret from his wife and deal with the moral and legal implications that become increasingly complicated.

If it sounds like a 'typical' movie of that sort, it is. Why? Because it was the prototype for all the rest of them to come. One can't really dock the movie for being the typical "affair goes dead wrong" movie, because it was the first one of its kind that truly perfected the formula. It'd be like saying Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew is WAAAAY too much like 10 Things I Hate About You. The thing is, Fatal Attraction really defied the expectations that I had set for it. The movie starts out kind of like Lyne began last year's Unfaithful - happy family together, and the parents getting ready to go out to a soiree. At that evening's party, Dan, while away from his wife, runs into Alex for the first time, and the sparks begin to fly. Now, the movie's title kind of gives away the fact that the woman is going to go completely nuts on him later, but James Dearden's screenplay, and Glenn Close's careful rendering of her character makes Alex a decent person to begin with. I was immediately impressed that Alex isn't some creepy, eccentric vixen that looks like bad news to begin with.

The inevitable begins, and Dan's wife and child must go away for the weekend. Alex turns up at a meeting at Dan's law firm, and shortly thereafter the affair begins. Right before they engage in some of the most protracted and unintentionally funny sex in film history, Lyne gives us an exquisite little scene in a restaurant between Dan and Alex. This is one of the crucial scenes in the film, for it sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Unlike Unfaithful, the two don't spend an increasingly longer amount of time with each other and then hastily have sex. Their dialogue right before their first tryst is direct. Like consenting adults, they simply agree that they're going to do it. No dancing around his apartment to sexy jazz music, no braille cookbook seduction. They simply sign a verbal agreement and then go at it on the kitchen sink, complete with running water and Douglas's odd obsession with having Close's breast in his mouth. The rest of their weekend consists of sex, more sex, and even more sex, with the obligatory 'funny scene where they almost get caught doing it in public.' The movie really takes off on it's nail-biting, visceral course when Dan decides he must leave.

The woman goes nuts, and that's an understatement. Calls and unexpected visits occur. Alex calls the house, but just stays silent when Dan's wife answers. Family pets are murdered. The tension mounts unbearably. The whole section of the film leading up to its exciting conclusion really makes an amazing impact. I had a huge list of expectations for what certain things would happen, but most of them didn't. This may be the prototypical erotic revenge thriller, but it certainly jumps over some of its own limitations. Anne Archer, Dan's wife, is an interestingly written character, for she is unsuspecting of it all until, well, until Dan must break down and confess. There is no bra discovered that isn't hers, no story that doesn't check out with someone else, no 'why have you been so distant since that one weekend when I left you completely alone?' All of the tension in the movie lies with what Alex will do next to remind Dan that he can't just let her go. The movie throws out another convention by actually letting Alex meet Dan and his wife in an incredibly uncomfortable scene where Alex slyly obtains their phone number after it has been changed. Fatal Attraction, along with its incredible building suspense, becomes less and less of the cookie-cutter genre film that it's been categorized as. This is in part thanks to amazing work by Close. As the movie's 'villain,' she radiates a dangerous sexuality and inital vulnerability that makes a great combination. Once she goes apes**t on Dan, she's simply a blast to watch. In that 'please let me never cross paths with a woman like her' sense, of course.

I love Fatal Attraction for much of the same reason that I loved Unfaithful. Hidden carefully beneath the movie's "thriller" facade is actually an excellent morality fable. This is hinted at when Alex is introduced as a likeable, sympathetic character, but fully fleshed-out once Dan must go back to his family. Sure, the woman's a freak, but Dan was the one that had the affair with her, so he's somewhat responsible. He told her that things would have to end, but no affair can just be extinguished like that. When he nicely tells her that it can't continue, I actually kind of felt bad for Alex. Sex has an emotional attachment to it that Dan tried to put behind him, but Alex couldn't. There is a crucial plot twist introduced into the film nearly halfway through that I won't reveal here, but it adds most importantly to the whole idea of Dan's moral quandry. At times, I was torn. For a while, Alex is simply a fling that's hanging on and one actually feels sympathy for her somewhat. Sure, it's all dispelled by the end of the film, but for a while the movie really turns the preconceived notions of its characters upside-down. Dan is trying to get back to his family, but isn't he somewhat of a creep for screwing around in the first place? That's the rocky terrain of infidelity, and Lyne's film explores it with an underlying expertise that can be seen through all the knife-weilding and bunny-boiling.

The movie has a handful of truly exciting, somewhat violent scenes that add an extra punch to its escalating progress. At one point, Dan breaks into Alex's apartment and has a violent encounter with her as he tells her to quit messing with his family. Alex enacts schemes of such raw cruelty, it's easy to understand why Dan is scared to death of her. Nothing compares to the movie's violent, bloody finale that has become a movie thriller landmark (one word, guys: catfight). It's truly one of the most well-done and exciting action scenes in film, and it's a bravura closer to a movie that deserves nothing less. Sure, it may not do anything creative to tie up the ends of the movie, but I'm glad Lyne used such an explosive scene. On the Special Edition DVD, an alternate ending can be viewed, and I was disappointed - it may be more creative and mean more in the context of the film (and may be technically better), but I'll stick with punches, guns, and knives for my revenge flick finales any day. Fatal Attraction is and always will be one of the most exciting, nail-bitingly intense, and entertaining movies of all time. It got six Academy Award nominations in 1987, including nods to Glenn Close and Anne Archer AND Best Picture. That's a testament to how much of a phenomenon it was then, but the fact that it stands up so well even today says so much more. GRADE: A-

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46 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Close Call For Douglas

10/10
Author: twanurit from United States
21 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've re-watched it on DVD and it's still an amazing, unforgettable nightmare film, spawning countless imitators and a multitude of discussion. Glenn Close will forever be identified as the unhinged colleague of married with child Michael Douglas who have a brief fling that Douglas lives to regret. Close should have won the Academy Award for her electrifying portrayal of an attractive, seemingly ground woman who eventually lashes out in acid-spewing, bunny-boiling, knife-wielding hysteria. Douglas is equally effective, beautifully conveying increasing angst and guilt (later he looks sick when he finds his wife chatting with Close). The subject was done before in at least "Possessed" (1947) and "Play Misty For Me" (1971), but not quite as effective and engrossing as this well-directed thriller. I definitely prefer the panic-stricken theatrical ending to the overly low-key and unexciting original cut. See it with a significant other!

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47 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

One Of The Most Memorable Movies Of The '80s

9/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
28 January 2007

You don't hear much about this film anymore, but in its day, this was the most-talked about movie of the year. It was a 'favorite topic of conversation about the office water cooler' for a number of weeks. At the time, it was a shocker. Nowaways.....who knows? As we become more and more desensitized to violence, sex and profanity, it takes a lot more to shock us.

Still, this movie had memorable moments that have stayed with us who first saw it at the theater 20 years ago. Most of those memorable scenes, if not all of them, involve Glenn Close's character, "Alex Forrest." Man, this is a woman who would not be denied what she wanted: in this case, married man Michael Douglas.

No sense going into all the details. Everyone knows them by now, anyway. Looking back, I think the film was a good lesson for men (or women) thinking about cheating on their spouses and assuming nothing bad will happen as a result. Men may commit more crimes, but that old adage about a "woman scorned" certainly is demonstrated here in spades! Douglas' character, "Dan Gallagher," certainly can attest to that, but he is anything but a sympathetic character. Both actors do a superb job in here, but kudos also to the rest of the Gallagher family, played by Anne Archer (wife "Beth") and Ellen Hamilton Latzen (daughter "Ellen.")

Also, the cinematography shouldn't be overlooked. The widescreen DVD certainly brought out how nicely this film was shot and directed. This two-hour film keeps your attention all the way. The only thing I would change is the language, toning it down a bit. Otherwise, it's a classic thriller and one of the most famous films in the '80s.

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40 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Terrific, tight thriller

8/10
Author: Michael Dyckman from Forest Hills, New York, USA
14 February 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had never seen Fatal Attraction until yesterday, but I had already heard about the famous pet rabbit and the closing scenes. No matter – this is one heck of a thriller that combines terrific acting from Michael Douglas and Glenn Close with a thought-provoking story. Douglas' married Dan Gallagher and Close's Alex Forrest have a steamy affair while his wife is away. Except that Alex decides that it's not over. Her Alex is a maniacal nutcase who isn't above anything to keep Dan for herself, including terrorizing his family and kidnapping his daughter. Anne Archer plays Dan's wife; it's a role that many actresses can play in their sleep. She does a fine job, but it's similar to her roles in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.

There is a larger issue here, though, and one that was discussed when the film was released: Aside from the moral problems of adultery, doesn't Alex have a point ? Isn't she entitled to something besides simply being used for a night or two ? The tension in this film is constant, although a lot of it seems too easily foreshadowed. Overall, though, a terrific thriller and a justifiably huge hit.

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33 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

WOW

Author: drewp-2 from Crestview, Fl
2 December 1998

This is an excellent movie about a pschyo(Close)who falls in love with Douglas and once he begins to realize he's doing the wrong thing she just won't leave him or his family alone. It is an excellent suspense thriller that moves like a rollercoaster and and keeps your attention from the beginning credits to the end credits, because the suspense never lets up once Douglas says to Close that he has to leave. This was one of Douglas' first in the "falling in love with pschyos movies" and it's the best. Some say Basic Instinct(which was basically all sex and very little suspense)was better, but this one has only one short sex scene and then it is suspenseful for the last hour and a half. It is definitely the best in his string of these kind of movies. Watch and judge for yourself. Ann Archer plays an excellent role as the determined and suspicious wife of Douglas(who pairs up perfect with pschyo Close). After the ending all you can say is WOW. ***1/2 out of ****

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30 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

An unforgettable movie

9/10
Author: Kristine (kristinedrama14@msn.com) from Chicago, Illinois
13 February 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the most talked about films of all time, Fatal Attraction, where married men learned a very valuable lesson: keep the pants zipped. I don't think there was a more talked about film in the 80's than Fatal Attraction, it made so many people think. It was a very intelligent thriller with great characters and a terrifying story. How many women get rejected by a man and haven't fantasized about just ruining their lives as revenge? Alex Forrest was the woman who didn't just fantasize, but lived it. How many men have a woman who won't let go of them no matter what they do? Even vice versa, but this was the movie that scared men right back into their wife's arms.

Dan Gallagher is a successful, happily-married attorney living in Manhattan when he meets Alex Forrest. While his wife, Beth, and daughter are out of town for the weekend, he has a passionate affair with Alex. Though he thought it was understood to be a simple fling, she begins clinging to him. Dan explains that he must go home and Alex cuts her wrists in a suicide attempt. He thinks the affair is forgotten, but she shows up at various places to see him. She continues to call until he tells his secretary that he will no longer take her calls. She then phones his home at all hours, and then confronts him saying that she is pregnant and plans to keep the baby. Although he wants nothing to do with her, she argues that he must take responsibility. She will do anything at this point to make him be with her, even if it means destroying his family.

Glenn Close who had only played the nice girl roles blew everyone's mind when she played Alex Forrest. What passion she put into the role and part of you couldn't really hate her. She brings up a great point to Dan "Because I won't allow you to treat me like some slut you can just bang a couple of times and throw in the garbage?". Your heart does break for her but at the same time you want to scream at her to let go of Dan and not hurt his family. Michael Douglas as Dan plays the role extremely well. He gives Dan a sense of realism, he's not a major jerk who just looks for random women, he makes a mistake and owns up to it. He's still very smart, but very frightened and rightfully so when he learns what Alex can do to him. You believe that he loves his family, he made a bad choice and don't we all? The consequences were a bit extreme this time. Ann Archer as Beth was not only beautiful, classy, but incredibly intelligent. She makes Beth so real and I loved her line that I found out was improvised when Dan tells her that he cheated "What is the matter with you?!", how many women or men have screamed that when getting hurt? Ellen Hamilton Latzen as Ellen, their daughter, is one of the best child actors you could imagine. She doesn't make her character annoying and when she sees her parents crying, she breaks down and you just want to hold her so badly. What talent at such a young age. Fatal Attraction was made so well and the reason why I think it holds up is because it is a very intelligent movie with great characters. You could relate in one way or another. Just a side note, I do wish they stuck with the original ending since it would have made more sense with Alex's character, I won't give it away, but it also would have been ironic with her and Dan's love for "Madame Butterfly". But people wanted to see Alex get what she had coming after her being named a "bunny boiler". But trust me when I say this is one of the best movies to come out of the 80's and I still love watching it.

9/10

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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Close Personifies A Woman Scorned.

8/10
Author: nycritic
23 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The back story goes that Glenn Close couldn't do sexy to save her life. She, of course, being the great actress she is, set herself out to prove her detractors wrong, and has gone down in history for having single-handedly made "love in an elevator" a household name and something horny lovers would look forward to, especially in a semi-deserted building after hours. Never dressed in anything other than black or white (in a nod to Lana Turner's own femme fatale wardrobe in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE), and with long, curly hair enhancing her cold, Connecticut looks, she lights up the screen in her hotly sensual, sympathetic introduction, and just as the black she wears later on as she turns into the psycho she really is, makes the audience completely hate her -- so of course, killing her off was in order to please the crowd who despite having the logics of plot thrown out the window demanded her death in a steamy bathtub at the hands of Anne Archer. That's the power of acting, people. She is the film down to its illogical but emotionally satisfying ending, and anything else is just a false 80s "family values" hogwash. When you think FATAL ATTRACTION, you think Glenn Close, dressed in white, sexual fury personified, holding that huge cleaver in hand.

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21 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Made me squirm

7/10
Author: Ralpho from United States
9 September 2001

Although I found myself checking the elapsed time during this movie to get some idea of when it would end, the final scenes made me squirm with sympathetic fright for the characters.

Roger Ebert says the filmmakers ruined a perfectly good psychological thriller by attaching a "Friday the 13th" ending. The IMDb Trivia page says the movie originally had a different ending in which Glenn Close's character commits suicide and Michael Douglas' character is arrested for her murder. Ebert and most serious film lovers would likely have preferred that ending. But making profitable movies sometimes means making them unpalatable for highbrow students of film.

Nevertheless, the "flawed" film resonated with women. I have vague memories of female friends and acquaintances in the late '80s seeing "Fatal Attraction" as an example of what SHOULD happen to any man who cheats on his wife. The movie found a place in our culture for a while, and the title was a euphemism for similar happenings in real life.

One wonders how much this movie had to do with the near universal creation of "stalker laws" in the 1990s.

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26 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie!

10/10
Author: elizleem-1 from United States
28 February 2006

This was a magnificent thriller - Douglas was great, Close was marvelous, but Ann Archer was the greatest. Great concept, excellent filming, perfectly executed acting. What more could one desire? Definite edge-of-the-seat pace - NOT a waste of time to see. I own the video, and I do not own many videos; this was the perfect see-it-over-and-over film. Even now, at age 50+, there are scenes that are the best I have ever witnessed in a movie. Douglas portrayed many men who finds his lover pregnant, though perhaps a bit more understanding in his initial attempt to support the woman. Close portrayed the unexpressed emotions of many women who have been in this situation, anger personified and vengeance motivated. The fact that her mental makeup was destroyed prior to her affair makes no difference in the expression of emotions, until, of course, she takes her emotions out on the family. Men, take notice! This could happen to you if you choose to have an affair. :)

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

WOW....

Author: lucas_dunaway (lucas_dunaway@yahoo.com)
30 September 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I swear, I have seen Fatal Attraction at least 15 times, and each time I watch it, I am on the edge of my seat. Glen Close does an AMAZING job as Alex, a psychopath, who becomes obsessed with a married man (Douglas.) The first time I saw this movie, I was shocked... Every second something happened that made me become more and more trapped into this movie. Theres the slitting of the wrists, the baby, the Volvo... and who could forget the bunny?? (poor bunny fu fu.) Anyway, for any one who loves thrillers, one-night stands, or thrillers... this is the KING of all others...

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