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|Index||216 reviews in total|
It's amazing to think that dozens - maybe hundreds(?) - of movies,
especially from the Lifetime channel, can trace their lineage to this
film (and people like John Carpenter and Brian De Palma turned this
down in part as they saw it as unoriginal, taking from Clint Eastwood's
great debut, Play Misty for Me). I think that makes this hold up is the
acting, pure and simple. Douglas and Close and also Anne Archer as the
wife really make this material work as strong as it can - they sell
every minute they can, and they have to. This is even in knowing that
the movie doesn't really have a very firm moral leg to stand on; we
should be on Michael Douglas' side, but he's the one that screwed up.
Sure, Glenn Close is crazy, or a victim of abuse as well if one wants to dig a little deeper (who knows what happened with dear old dad before he died of that heart attack), but, and this is important, she's right (certainly initially) or at least has a point that should matter about how he's just tossing her to the wayside after a night or two of "fun". I like that Lyne and the writer have underlying implications that make it more harrowing and that it paints the two sides as neither right or wrong (though of course one is more wrong than the other, the wrongs don't make anything right) up to varying degrees. What makes it not stand up over time is the ending, or even the last act.
From a writing perspective it should have ended how it was originally supposed to, with Alex killing herself and framing Dan as if it was murder. It calls back to the mention of Madame Butterfly, which is the set up and pay-off. But because the producers acquiesced it turns into the template for countless s***y movies where the character has one last hurrah to mess with the supposed heroes and blood is spilled and one more life is lost. In a sense my criticism is the same as Ebert's, that it kind of turns into a Friday the 13th movie. But at least for 85% of the running time, maybe 90%, it is a provocative, terrifying drama that has a simple moral message: don't cheat.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember standing in line forever in the autumn of 1987 to see what
the press was trumpeting as an edge-of-your-seat thriller that would
scare you to death and being dumbfounded by the result.
Michael Douglas portrays a wealthy, privileged guy married to stay-at-home glamour-puss mom Anne Archer. His marriage is seemingly great, but for some unknown reason he steps out for an extra-marital affair with frizzy-haired Glenn Close - a business acquaintance. Close then starts to go bonkers when she realizes that Douglas is not interested in continuing the affair and keeps injecting herself into his life in more sinister ways.
To start with the obvious, the film is far from original and is a barely veiled reworking of Clint Eastwood's much better Play Misty for Me (a glaring similarity that no one in the press seemed to bring up). Some clever studio PR person came up with the idiot notion that the Close character was a metaphor for AIDS/STDs and that this was a cautionary tale of unprotected sex that the more provincially minded ate up since it made them think they were seeing something with deeper meaning. Alas, the film is as deep as a puddle and about exciting as watching paint dry.
Director Lyne gives everything that obnoxious glossy look that proliferated in perfume ads in the 1980s. Both Douglas and Close are photographed in such an unflattering way that they should sue and their sexual trysts are of the grunt-groan wrestling kind that leave viewers laughing hysterically rather than titillated. Certainly not the "torrid" affair that the breathless ads postulate. Worse, the film is paced like a 50-mile tortoise race, with Lyne telegraphing every "shock" well ahead of time to defeat its purpose. There literally is not any scene where he does not tip his hand by moving the camera in an awkward position to indicate someone will pop up behind another character in a moment.
The dialogue is almost painfully banal among the characters. Douglas seems to be suffering from fatal lockjaw in the lead role. He gives us no reason to understand why he is stepping out on his wife with the unappealing woman played by Close here and no reason as to why his character is such a total douche to Close in subsequent scenes. He is almost pathologically unsympathetic. Poor Close spends the majority of the film desperately trying to find pathos in a character that the film just wants to cast as a bogeyman. We get no reason why this seemingly well-adjusted career woman would go immediately unhinged after one night of sex with Douglas (although given the unintentional hilarity of their sex scenes I might reconsider that one). Anne Archer fares best as Douglas's wife, but the film cheats her in the big scene where Douglas reveals his infidelity by cutting her reaction short and she is stuck looking like a panic-stricken ninny in a completely pointless sequence where Close nabs her child resulting in a hysterical Archer crashing her car rather than contacting the authorities.
The film ends on a predictable note, but no more so than anything that preceded it. Unless you have never watched a film before, there is nothing present here that was not previously done much better elsewhere. The delirious reception and notoriety for the film seem more due to the breathlessly misleading public relations than anything on screen, because in all honesty I have met more people that dislike it or have issues with it than those who unequivocally like it. After all the build-up, one is left with a predictable, painfully dull, superficial piece of nonsense. Quite frankly the only people I can see being terrified or in a constant state of suspense from this tedium are affluent married men either in an extramarital affair or contemplating one. And having to endure this overrated rubbish more than once would be a suitable punishment for many crimes.
This is a suspenseful thriller with edge-of-your-seat excitement that
stars Michael Douglas as attorney Dan Gallaher, whose one-night stand
with a publisher, Alex Forrest (Glenn Close), comes back to haunt him
as he wants to end the fling and Alex keeps stalking him.
Glenn Close's portrayal of Alex is a mesmerizing, seductive and sinister role which gets your head spinning, making you wonder how far Alex will go in order to get Dan from resisting her and how fatal this will effect Dan's close relationship with his family. It's a great cause & effect result that is, from Alex's psychological breakdown to Dan's suffering from his biggest regret.
The acting was excellent and the plot's pacing was fast and to-the-point, one tension-filled scene after the other. It's a though-provoking film that gives you the possible consequences of adultery and reminds you to never take your family for granted.
In th winter of 1987/88, "Fatal Attraction" was a sensation: the most
viewed and the most debated movie on show. Directed by Adrian Lyne, who
had made the lighter "Flashdance| and "9 1/2 Weeks", this taut thriller
stars Michael Douglas as married lawyer Dan Gallagher who has a weekend
of passion with causal acquaintance Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) while
his wife Beth (Anne Archer) ans young daughter are out of town.
Close is terrific as the spurned lover who turns increasingly vengeful and manic in a performance reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's "Play Misty For Me" (she even sends Dan a tape labelled 'Play me'). As the tension ratchets up, there are more and more shocking and memorable scenes with perhaps that involving the daughter's pet rabbit as the most disturbing. Given the time of its release, many viewers saw this as a moral tale against sexual infidelity with the Alex character as the personification of AIDS.
Viewing it again almost three decades later, it still has the power to shock and awe, but we now know that the ending - so satisfying to audiences and conducive to box office records - was changed as a result of test screenings. So the frequent references to the opera "Madam Butterfly" and Dan's handling of a knife hint at the finale intended by screenwriter James Deardon and indeed a recent stage version of the film presents a more nuanced treatment of Alex and offers a different resolution.
Prior to viewing Fatal Attraction I was familiar with the film. I saw
clips of it here and there (on YouTube, TV specials), I saw the
semi-remake/rip-off starring Beyonce, Obsessed, and I am aware of the
huge reputation surrounding the film. There were no surprises.I can
imagine being in the '80s, sitting in the theaters expecting a sweeping
love story and being overcome with surprise and adrenaline rush when I
realized its true nature. In a perfect world that may be possible, but
in reality I am forced to be friendly from a distance.
Don't get me wrong, it's a great movie, probably the best thriller from the '80s, but being so immersed in the hype did took away the fun that everyone gossiped about opening weekend in 1987. In fact, Fatal Attraction, was the first of its kind that spawned countless "romantic" thrillers since. It's mystifying to think of the ways the world of thrillers has changed since the origin of the genre, but in other way stayed exactly the same. Same plot formula, same twists, different style, different noise levels. The bottom line is most haven't gotten much better than this.
Glenn Close has said that she doesn't view her character, Alex as the villain in the story. That's typical of an actor playing the antagonist in a film because actors have to justify their characters as human beings to be able to portray them successfully. But I am actually taking the actor's side this time. I felt an enormous amount of empathy towards Alex. She's a lonely woman, she's really lonely, and that's the cause of all her malicious actions that follow. In ways she was the victim. Close embodies Alex, making the loneliness enough for the viewer to link themselves to, but not too much to overwhelm the viewer. When the script calls for Close to be overt, man, does she bring it, though.
My favorite performance, maybe even over Close's, was Anne Archer. Knowing she got an Academy Award nomination prior to watching the film, I assumed she'd get a scene to cry and throw a fit and that's what scored the nomination. She does well in that scene I anticipated, but I think she's exceptional from start to finish. Warm, when need be. Sorrowful, when need be. Douglas is the trio-member who doesn't stick out as often, but when his moment finally comes for the character to shine, you realize he was shining the entire time, we just didn't notice.
The killer aspect of Fatal Attraction is the directing from Adrian Lyne. Lyne layers fear on top of characters, not the plot necessarily, but the fictitious characters themselves. A particularly wicked moment of direction involves a telephone ringing. The telephone is what we're focusing on, but Lyne keeps the audience's engagement with the telephone on whether Archer's character will answer it and what Close's might say to her. Lyne takes his time and builds real suspense that often results in a misleading outburst of intensity. Lyne also makes the intelligent decision to let the sex scenes happen, but not to let them define the film. He puts the characters, the story, and most importantly, the suspense ahead of the raunchy sex scenes.
The film editing is crisp, pinpointed directly at Lyne's vision of the suspense. It keeps the film tantalizingly alive. The film is aided by a piercing score the scorches the suspense volumes louder than it had a right to be. Although moving the story along at a nice-pace is the ultimate intention of the thriller, symbolism can be found such as the shot of Douglas leaving Close's apartment the morning after the affair, adding to the basic, almost-generic message of the film: don't cheat. The ending isn't the original ending, though it's one heck of a conclusion and a heart-pounding thrill fest that shouldn't be controversial. The original ending is a sterling, twisted scene as well, but it's one that's not nearly as exciting as the final ending.
Originality is lacks in Hollywood today, but Fatal Attraction remains as an original roller coaster jolt, which other films have adapted and cheapened to make a few bucks. They know it works with the audience so why not? That being said, the script is really good. The dialogue is coated with richness, while still being realistic (they speak the way people actually speak in the real world). There are tons of twists packed into the screenplay, many of which pay off. The ones that don't work as well feel awkward and downgrade the flick a tad, but nothing that can stop the reputation of the thriller.
Being the first of its kind cannot be easy, but Fatal Attraction maintains the respect and class of it's massive reputation. It's filled with startling twists, great acting, and a director reaching shocking heights of the suspense genre. It's worth seeing for the terrifying finale which has stood the test of time extremely well. As much as I appreciated the technical elements, I wish I wasn't so familiar with it before actually seeing it which would've allowed myself to be swept up in its madness. Maybe this is a flashing light that we shouldn't familiarize ourselves with something so much that it becomes too late to fathom the art in its purest state.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You will be horrified by Glenn Close's realistically demented
performance of an outwardly gorgeous woman with severe emotional
instabilities. The most frightening aspect is that she isn't a monster;
she isn't Michael Myers. You have to admit she's a real vulnerable
person who has a damaged history with men which obliterated her trust
in them, so her longing for their affection drives her into obsessive
or destructive relationships, and for this you feel sorry for her. But
paradoxically her inability to deal with her dysfunction drives her to
lash out at the men who try to love her or care for her.
The premise of this film is of an all American family man living the dream who goes astray, falling victim to his lust for another woman and incidentally falling victim to her wrath when he leaves.
That's why I consider this both a horror film and a tragedy because of the ending. Alex didn't deserve the fate she got. She was mentally ill and therefore not responsible for her actions. She instead deserved institutionalization in a mental hospital where she could be cared for and treated until she could resume a normal life. I'm so sick of "villains" in movies, who are actually just victims of their own mental illness, getting killed in the end when it isn't fair or really necessary.
It always humors me a great deal when people say FATAL ATTRACTION is the quintessential sex-psycho thriller. They probably haven't seen the 1971 original version, PLAY MISTY FOR ME. That was Clint Eastwood's debut as a director and much more frightening and surprising than FA. So, if you like these kind of films and think FA is the best, do yourself a favour and go out and rent PLAY MISTY FOR ME. You'll be in for a ride!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILER ALERT At the first screening of Fatal Attraction, I thought the ending was very Hollywood: Alex is dead, Beth got her revenge and Dan no longer has to worry about another child; it is a return to normalcy. This does not mean the conclusion was not exciting, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, yet at the same time I predicted this sort of thriller ending. Later viewing the original finale I was astonished, here was a human, more real approach to the movie. More strings are tied together when Alex commits suicide to Madame Butterfly as foreshadowed earlier. I think the first cut is better, although it appealed to fewer people. It made Alex less of a monster and more of a person thinking not just about her life, but the life growing in her. I will admit that Beth finding the evidence to prove her husband innocent was a bit quick, but it still felt good to know that Beth and Dan would be able to lead a healthy life post-Alex. Another reason I liked the original ending was because it did not leave Dan guilt-free, the self defense ending did this and it made Alex's life trivial in a way. Killing herself, in my opinion, made Dan realize his responsibility; there was a part of him inside her. Although the film does not really pay much attention to it, I think in the first ending Dan finally awakens to his situation, he is going to be a father again. It is too bad that popular opinion cause the original ending to get scrapped, it was better and fit the characters more appropriately.
I remember watching this at the cinema with an ex-girlfriend and totally enjoying it. It then came on TV about 4 years later and I watched it again enjoying it again. Then it came on again and again and again. I decided to buy it on DVD and I enjoyed even more than the first 7 times I'd watched. It appears that whenever I watch this I like even more than I liked the time I watched it before, even though I know what happens. Anyway to make it short and snappy it's a great film with great performances, direction, ending and great DVD Features. I love the alternate ending but the one it has is the best. A Classic Sexual Thriller that looks even better than ever. **** out of *****
A bored family man with the apartment to himself for the weekend, an obsessive lover, and an unknowing family. This plotline has been done before; however, the suspense created while this story unwinds is what keeps Fatal Attraction uniquely original. When Dan (Michael Douglas), a married man, has an affair with Alex (Glenn Close), a person's first reaction would be to think of him as an unfaithful, horrible man. However, once Alex's true nature comes into the light, and we see her as the crazy, obsessed, dependent woman she really is, our sympathy sways towards Dan. Throughout the entire movie, the crowd hopes that everything will work out for him and his family. This is what the director, Adrian Lyne, wanted people to feel; however, Alex should not be placed with all the blame. After all, no one likes to be the victim of a "one night stand," especially when the other person will not take the responsibility for what may result from it. When this movie was first made, it was shown to an audience who gave its disapproving criticism of the end. The result from this was the filming of a second ending. Originally, it portrayed Alex as a disheartened, depressed woman who gives up on the chase. The second, however, conveys a murderous crazy woman. I guess as far as suspense is involved, the new ending definitely keeps people on the edge of their seats, and reinforces Alex's damaging nature that is seen throughout the entire film. Overall, Fatal Attraction is definitely worth seeing, especially for any man considering having an affair.
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