A married man's one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.A married man's one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.A married man's one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.
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.
- Jun 12, 2013