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Monday, 12 March 2018

Retro Review: Fatal Attraction (1987)

Fatal Attraction
1987
Cast: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer, Ellen Foley
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $320 million 

Plot: A married man's one-night stand comes back to haunt him when his lover begins to stalk him and his family





'The Not So Saint & Sinner From The '80s That Holds Up - Yet Has Its Issues'

Watching Fatal Attraction for the first time in over what, say 15 years, & over 30 years since its original release in cinemas, it still has its moments with the film upping the tension during the second half, thankfully, after a dreary first half; yet not least of all the rather bothersome outcome, of which pretty much spits in the face of the audience. Adrian Lyne is a provocative director who delves deep into issues of sex and infidelity, but even for all of his attempts to inciting and titillating audiences, in terms of storytelling and as a whole, from the insipid Flashdance and 9 1/2 weeks to the disastrous Lolita remake, Lyne has never been a truly great filmmaker. Fatal Attraction has a fairly standard, and if what one may say, is also a sexist plot and but for a few shock moments, the film is marred by a somewhat questionable outcome, underdeveloped female characters and a male protagonist character, married man Dan, who is up there as one of the least, sympathetic and most shallow - if not more so abhorrent lead characters, alongside that of Liz Gilbert from 2010's Eat Pray Love. 

Married husband and father, Dan has a wife and a child, only he bumps into an editor one day who he cheats with - only to find himself on the receiving end of endless threats initiated by her. She tries to ruin his life, destroy his reputation. Two wrongs don't make a right and in Dan and Alex, they are indeed the wrongs, as they manage to screw each other, both sexually and ultimately destroying each other - with Alex, being even more relentless and who is a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, as we'd say in the UK.

One must wonder what on earth Dan Gallagher - played by Michael Douglas, who is no stranger to these types of roles where he gets eaten alive by another sex hungry vixen - was thinking, or indeed smoking by having several flings with a Blonde, curly-haired floozy, Alex. A woman who is so messed up and who is capable of taking advantage of Dan's aloofness and vulnerability. There was nothing in the script that justified his infidelity; if he felt there had been something seriously wrong with their marriage, then so be it but otherwise, he was and is just as guilty for allowing the problems to escalate as it did and for getting involved with Alex in the first place. As the film went on, I lost almost all sympathy for him. There are arguments that have been banded around from all quarters of Douglas's Dan being the real villain of the piece, despite that the story tries to get the audience to sympathise with Dan and feel anger, animosity and disgust towards the intended antagonist, Alex - when in actuality they are clearly both in the wrong and are as bad as one another. For starters, we, or most of us can agree that it was he, and not Alex who consented to have sex or be it an affair with the other person and it was he who chose to throw away his 10 years or so marriage down the drain by doing so. 

I am also bewildered as to how on earth this became the 2nd highest- grossing film of 1987 ahead of Good Morning, Vietnam, Lethal Weapon, Predator and Robocop. It has its moments for definite, but this just wasn't the blockbuster movie or that movie that wowed or impressed me as much as those films did.

The erotic sex scenes were not so sexy and hot, so much so the moaning noises because nauseating, and besides those scenes, the story would fluctuate in places and there would be some lull moments. The conversation at the dinner table had me droning off, it was that uninteresting. The first hour had me feeling well, little to nothing as there was nothing of interest but as it wore on, as the tension piled up, that was when it won me back. Glenn Close revels in her wacko psycho role and she extracts every bit of nastiness, arrogance and sexual neediness that a femme fatale character, would be most proud of. She gives her character some depth, as much as I loathe Alex, Close did her justice. Or be it an injustice and an in a good way from a performance point of view. Meanwhile, Michael Douglas still perplexes me: looking back on his roles and movies, he is a good actor, no doubt, but his choice of roles and movies, but for Falling Down, Wonder Boys, The War of The Roses, Behind The Candelabra and Romancing The Stone, have been far from revelationary and exemplary in showing his true worth as an actor. & that is what holds him back from being as widely renowned, as say, early Robert De Niro, Robin Williams to name. Here, he played pretty much the same type of character with a dissimilar performance as the one in Disclosure and Basic Instinct and the way Dan was written, with him being flustered, it just felt off in some parts. Anne Archer's wife character, Beth offered little of consequence, other than being a victim of her husband's infidelity and we have no real insight into her actual character and of her as a person. & really, she should have filed for divorce from Dan and told him she wanted nothing to do with him, right after Beth finds out about the truth. 

When the initial test screenings for a different ending to the one that eventually made it in the final version of the film, with Dan arrested for murder, for some reason this didn't go down too well and with that, many scenes were cut and reshot. In doing so, it went against everything and its message that it was supposed to evoke. Co-star Glenn Close commented that these changes were disappointing and in light of this movie & how it turned out, she is right. 

There are so many crazy loose ends that are thrown in for the sake of generating controversy and conversation, but these do not get tied up: one of these being Close's character mentions that she is pregnant with Dan's baby. 

Alas, for a psychological film with 2 female characters, the film doesn't treat them with any contempt, though the last 30 mins turns into a slasher flick this side of Psycho and Scream, which was all right but the ending was poor, it didn't feel right at home with me & no doubt the arguments that Lyne should have stuck with the original ending, which would have made a tad more sense, would have been better. 





Final Verdict:

For what it's worth, Fatal Attraction is an overly decent psychological thriller but it is also one that I wouldn't necessarily go ga-ga for and it is mostly underwhelming. Yet thankfully, it gets better during the second half and it becomes a better, if not more so amazing film

But for say the daughter, as well as some unsexy sex scenes, and as well acted as it was, there wasn't anyone I could truly root for in this movie and had the first third of it been as good as the last intensely gripping 30 mins or so, Fatal Attraction would have been a really satisfying and intense film that deserves its plaudits. 


Overall:



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