In Manhattan, the British limousine driver Alfie is surrounded by beautiful women, most of them clients, and he lives as a Don Juan, having one night stands with all of them and without any sort of commitment. His girl-friend and single-mother Julie is quite upset with the situation and his best friends are his colleague Marlon and his girl-friend Lonette. Alfie has a brief affair with Lonette, and the consequences of his act forces Alfie to reflect and wonder about his life style. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I don't depend on nobody and nobody depends on me...
Oh, what a powerful film the original Alfie was. What amazing creativity, themes, and structure it had! It was enjoyable to watch because Caine has this uncanny ability to bring you into his world. He is so calm and "everyday" that Alfie's words pull you into the screen and allow you to become involved with his life. I only wish this could have been true with this disastrous remake. Jude Law attempts at every angle possible to bring that pizazz that Caine brought to the screen, but ultimately fails in every attempt. While Caine, in the original, felt like he could have represented you or I, Law in this film, feels like he is ripped from the pages of Vogue or In Style magazine. You know that point in a magazine where you feel that the ads featuring models wearing clothes that you will never fully appreciate seem to clutter the pages instead of articles? Well, that is exactly what this remake felt to me. Instead of a powerful story being the central focus of the film, we were bombarded, nearly drowned, in model-esquire images of the people of NYC and how only the very beautiful are attracted to the very beautiful. Coupled with cinematography that feels like a super-budged GAP ad, I could only squint as my stomach hurled with disgust.
"What's it all about, Alfie?" A simple question that is the central focus of the first film, while in this pathetic remake, it is never disclosed until the very end. Why did this film suffer? First of all, Jude Law is no Michael Caine. He doesn't have that "every man" sort of appeal that dragged me into the film. I never really felt like he was talking to me, but instead trying to maneuver his way into the mantra of the female audience. That was a huge problem for me as well, in the original, Caine talks to the men of the audience, while in the remake, Law attempts to gain sympathy from the females in the audience. Law just cannot seem to capture the ideals of Alfie. He is a womanizer, I know that, but there are more layers to this character than just that. Sadly, Law brought none of them out. Even at the end, I never felt as if there was a final moment of realization or symbolic referencing. "What was it all about?" The original, I could tell you, for this remake, it seemed a bit fuzzy and dislocated. I don't know what it was about except a man not committed to anything glides through life with a smile somehow still located on his face. Perhaps it wasn't just Law's work, but also the ladies that accompanied him. These are women that the average man will never meet, or ever encounter. So, how could we relate to the story? Marisa Tomei, Susan Sarandon, Nia Long, and even Sienna Miller seemed to give glamorized renditions of hurt women. The original was about Alfie, but several believe that the staples to the story were the women that surrounded him. I can honestly say that the staples to this film were not the women, because Jude Law hailed top billing. Did the director even see the original?
I would like to address the issue of whether this was a remake or just an "updated" version of the original Alfie. My answer is that it is a remake that crashes considerably when you place the two films together. My biggest issue with this remake was that it addressed nothing. In the original film, it was apparent from the first 30 minutes of the movie that Alfie was a troubled man who carried trouble on his back and deposited trouble to each one of his encounters. One might even say victims. Was it a sign of the times or something that is inherent in the female species that lead to the destruction of so many hopes and dreams? The 60's were a time of floundering economically and politically for most of the world. Did Alfie seize on the free-sex, free love atmosphere that became prevalent during that time or were his predatory skills developed much earlier in his life? Alfie wasn't strong enough a character to go into self-destruct alone. The weakness of his character insisted that he bring everyone down with him. Just as in the animal kingdom the predator preys on the victim that is unsuspecting, most vulnerable and most importantly the victim who cannot hurt him. He must always stay insulated from the outside world. Yet, in the remake, I saw nothing of the sort. I saw random chaos where Hollywood regained our sympathy by making our lead character this "can never be mad at Jude Law". Not living in NYC or in a place where models walk around on the streets, nor a frequent viewer of Vogue magazine, I didn't find the appeal of subtle themes of this film at all. Alfie goes through the motions as he does in the original, but there is considerable chunk of life missing.
Overall, this was a very disappointing remake. The music just didn't seem to carry that same charm that the original did, nor did the rest of the cast. This was not an art film, but instead a Hollywood creation that lacked the appeal of the original. It was created to boost some sex appeal for Jude Law instead of showing this radical vision of our world. Alfie is genuine in the original, and quite plastic in this remake, which ultimately hurt the overall impression of the film. Those that say that you cannot compare the original and this remake together because they are two separate films, I would completely disagree with. This Alfie was a remake and was poorly put together while the original was, "powerful, humorous, yet pointed story".
Grade: ** out of *****
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