Sunday, August 19, 2012

773. Fatal Attraction (1987)

Running Time: 119 minutes
Directed By: Adrian Lyne
Written By: James Dearden
Main Cast: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer
Click here to view the trailer


In a 100 that will be filled to the brim with films from the 1980s, I decided to make "Fatal Attraction" my third film since my return. I figured after watching a pair of Kirk Douglas films, it might be nice to slip in a Michael Douglas feature and compare the father and son.

The film opens by introducing us to Dan Gallagher (Douglas), his wife Beth (Archer) and their daughter Ellen, a typical, happy family living in New York. Dan practices law and is successful at what he does and enjoys his family life. The film's most vital point comes one weekend when Beth and Ellen go to visit Dan's in-laws for a few days. The morning that they leave, Dan heads into work for a Saturday morning meeting with a client and it is there that he meets Alex Forrest (Close). When the meeting ends and the two can't catch a cab, they decide to take refuge from the pouring rain inside a small, local restaurant. There the two get to know each other a little better and decide that not only do they get along, but that they are physically attracted to one another. In an innuendo driven exchange, where the two talk about being discreet and being adults, the two finally end up on Dan's kitchen sink, in a hot and heavy exchange, that will see it's end in Alex's bed. In other words, the two hump like rabbits (yes, RABBITS) and Dan officially becomes a cheating husband. When Beth returns, it is Dan's plan to act as if nothing has happened. He goes to certain lengths to make it seem as if things have been running normal, mussing up the bed to make it look like he slept in it, showering vigorously and even feeding the dog the spaghetti and meat sauce that was meant for him, but that he was too busy to eat. He wants the relationship with Alex to come to an abrupt halt and wants to consider the weekend a one time thing, never to see her again. She, however, sees it differently, wanting more out of Dan, noting that he didn't stop to think how this would effect her, only thinking of himself and his hormones. Long story short, she goes a little nutso, basically stalking Dan, calling him incessantly, vandalizing his car. Things reach a head when Alex announces she's pregnant and that the baby is definitely Dan's.

It wasn't a long walk to acquire this one, as all I had to do was walk to my DVD shelf. I saw "Fatal Attraction" for the first time, many years ago and fell in love with it instantly. THE BOOK notes that the film has that Hollywood gloss and without it would have surely been a straight to video vehicle. However, despite the gloss, I still think this film has that feeling of a little hole in the wall thriller, that you stumble across in the back corner of your local Mom & Pop video store (when those still existed). The film is slow to start and actually as I was watching it I started to think of why this film was so appealing to me, when I bought it on DVD many years ago. On the surface, the entire film hinges on this affair between Dan and Alex and the consequences that follow and really doesn't sound like it would be able to fill out a two hour length. However, Lyne knows what he's doing and is able to add moments of suspense, sometimes with the smallest of details, like a ringing phone and the look on Dan's face when he comes to the realization that it could be and probably is Alex. It didn't take long for the film to swallow me back up into it's world, get me on the edge of my seat and leave me with the feeling that I was watching this film again for the first time.


The cast does a fine job, but in the matter of Kirk Douglas vs. Michael Douglas, the accolades have to go to Kirk. He was just a more polished actor and while I think I enjoyed this film more than both "Paths of Glory" and "Spartacus", it certainly wasn't for the skills of Michael Douglas. He's an okay actor, but I think he's often more overrated than he deserves to be. As far as acting skills go in "Fatal Attraction", the kudos have to go to Glenn Close, who knocked one out of the park as Alex Forrest, providing that "on the edge of insanity" portrayal. The film also does an amazing thing in getting the viewer to feel sympathy for Dan, even though Alex is basically in the right. Sure, her actions are a little out there (to say the least), but she's justified in being upset, making phone calls and hounding Dan to be a part of her life and her unborn baby's life. Dan is the one who is entirely in the wrong, taking advantage of a weekend alone to sow one more wild oat. Yet we (or at least I) feel sorry for him, especially when he breaks down and tells his wife the truth and is forced out of his home, leaving behind his daughter and wife. It's just a really fun film, one that is really easy to get lost in and enjoy. The suspense, at times, is off the charts and it's not something with so much Hollywood gloss on it, that you can't see the small, subtle effects that the actors and director bring to the table.

RATING: 8/10  Well three films down, 97 to go before I make another TOP 20 list and nothing that has dipped below a '6' yet...that's great news!


August 19. 2012  3:02pm

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