fatal attraction | adrian lyne | james dearden | michael douglas | glenn close | anne archer | drama | thriller | united states | psychological thriller | ellen latzen | stuart pankin | ellen foley | fred gwynne | meg mundy | tom brennan | lois smith | mike nussbaum
Film: Fatal Attraction
Director: Adrian Lyne
Writer: James Dearden
Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close and Anne Archer
This film I think I first watched in college when I got the movie challenges for free for a bit. It was one I always heard about and felt that I should give a viewing of. Since then, I believe I’ve seen it a second time with my family when I was visiting with a third viewing with Jaime. The synopsis here is a married man’s one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover beings to stalk him and his family.
We are following a family of three. The father is Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) and he’s married to Beth (Anne Archer). They’re getting ready for a party that night when the babysitter for their daughter Ellen (Ellen Latzen) shows up.
They go to the party where they meet up with another married couple of Jimmy (Stuart Pankin) and Hildy (Ellen Foley). Dan is a lawyer for a firm that works with a book publisher. At the party Dan and Jimmy see a blonde woman. Jimmy makes a comment to her and she gives him a dirty look. Later in the Dan goes to the bar and ends up next to her. They hit it off, but she doesn’t give him her name. We learn soon after it is Alex Forrest (Glenn Close).
Beth and Ellen go out to the country to visit her parents as well as look at house. Beth really wants to move out of New York City. Dan isn’t fully on board unless they could find the right place. While they gone, Dan at work runs into Alex. They are both at a meeting about a client and a book she wrote. It is raining outside as they go to leave. His umbrella doesn’t open and she joins him on the sidewalk. They try to get a cab and when they can’t, he suggests they get drink until it stops. This drink then becomes dinner.
They flirt dinner and end up going home together. Despite him being married and her knowing it, they have a weekend affair. She is clearly more interested in him and he tries to break it off. She doesn’t get the hint and tries to kill herself. Dan has to decide to keep it a secret and find a way to get her to leave him alone, or to tell his wife. The problem is though; will Alex allow him to leave her? How far will she go to be with him?
The first time I watched this film as I said was when I was in college. After that second viewing, I have to say that it wasn’t as good as I remember it being. Now with that third viewing, being older and in a different place in my life, I can see different things about it. Watching it with my significant other also makes it more interesting.
I still liked this film though, but this what I took away from it. Since story and writing are my favorite things about a movie, I have to say this is good in that department. The concept of this film is something that we could see today. People are having affairs still and this most definitely could happen. The film does hold up in that respect. It is dated in some portions of it coming from 1987 and the technology they are using. That I won’t hold against it.
What is really driving this movie is the acting. I think the cast was great. Douglas is interesting in my opinion. He loves his wife and family. He is tempted by the forbidden fruit when he is given the opportunity. What makes him really interesting though is that the farther he is pushed we see that he will do whatever it takes to protect what he has. He is selfish like Alex calls him, wanting his cake and eats it too. What I’ve really come to terms with though is that he’s a scumbag. I don’t like him at all and I don’t enjoy how things end for him.
On the other side of this we have Close. She did a great job. I think the role she played was very tough. What I really found interesting about her was that she said in an interview that knowing what we do now, she would have played it differently. She cited the reason being that the character clearly has a mental illness and it could be hurtful to those that are really afflicted with them. I personally am glad that she portrayed the role how she did. It felt like she could really be that character. It is really scary that the more she is ignored, the worse she gets and the things she does get even more terrifying. It is an interesting duality to how put together and strong she seems at first.
I did want to commend Archer and Latzen. Archer had a tough role too in that she is in the dark as to what is happening for most of the film. She is faced with a difficult decision of staying with her husband when she learns what he did or keeping the family together. She loses it with Alex after the things she does. I just don’t necessarily like where she ends things. I do like what she does though to put an end to this nightmare. Latzen was good being that she is a child and that can be something hard to do to show the emotions she had to portray.
The editing of the film was good to me as well. The tension builds as the film goes on, which is what you want from it. I really liked a sequence where Alex takes Ellen to an amusement park and takes her on a rollercoaster. This is paired with Beth trying to find her and the panic setting in. It was well done duality. If I did have an issue, I do think that it runs just a bit too long. There seems to be a bit that could have gotten this down to 100 minutes and it would have been tighter for me.
I have added this film to the horror film research due to the fact of how psychotic Alex is and the dread that comes from it for Dan. She does have a mental illness, but she puts Dan’s life through hell. He isn’t innocent in this though and I felt I needed to point that out. The fear and tension continues to build throughout the film. She does some very horrible things, especially around the climax of this film.
With that said, I would recommend giving this film a viewing. The story is one that is still relevant today. Parts of the film are outdated, being that this film came from 1987. The acting is good and they do well to build the tension of the film. I thought the editing was solid for the most part. We get parts where the tension is up, we then think that it is over and then Alex will do something else. The soundtrack outside of one scene didn’t stand out, but it also didn’t hurt the film. There are films that are more modern retelling of this film, but some of the iconic scenes in this film are worth giving a viewing. I would say to give this film a viewing if you get a chance.
My Rating: 7 out of 10