Reviewed by Jeff DeLuzio
Rating: 2 Beans
This film made a killing, and perhaps that, as much as anything, prompted me to review it here. That may not be fair-- one should rate a film on its own merits. Still, if "Titanic" hadn't received an overwhelming critical and commercial response, if the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science hadn't seen fit take a hack romance-script with cool effects and decent acting, and award it with, let us argue, a certain undeserved trophy, would it have received quite so many negative notices here at "Bad Movie Night"? We'll never know-- but I doubt that it would have.
So I'm reviewing "Fatal Attraction."
I write not of the now-available director's cut, which is more harrowing than the one we saw in theatres. Adrian Lyne's original treatment complicates our understanding of the two main characters, and the original ending (strongly supported by Glenn Close and Ann Arden, but opposed by Michael Douglas) gives the film a complexity which raises the level of the entire film. The original movie lacked these elements. What I saw in 1987 was, at best, a mediocre thriller with highly questionable characterizations.
Alex (Glenn Close) has a complexity in the director's cut. She's disturbed, and criminal, but she's more than a predator, and she captures some measure of sympathy. But in the movie released, she's the affair's nondescript "other woman" who suddenly reveals herself to be an inexplicable and unredeemable psychopath, and must be stopped with gratuitous violence.
(I might note that, in the original script, she was also not the one who pursues the illicit relationship. Both versions of the film, however, make her the aggressor from the beginning).
The much-vaunted twists in the film baffled me only in the audience reactions to them. Everything that happens after Alex reveals her "stalker" personality is fairly predictable. I was surprised only once, when Alex emerged from the bath after being killed there. Of course I was surprised. Dan Gallager (Michael Douglas) had drowned her in a manner which would have finished off the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Since this film is not, in fact, a supernatural thriller, her resurrection was naturally unexpected. There follows, of course, more Hollywood violence, which ends her (I guess) for good. Finally, in the movie's idiotic final shot, the camera shows us a photograph of the Gallager family.
This last bit was widely interpreted as supporting the film's anti-extramarital sex "moral." But wait a minute. Some guy has an affair. The woman turns out to be a deranged nutcase. This is supposed to be a moral lesson against affairs, huh? So, the reason for not having affairs is not because it hurts a loved one, or even that it violates a solemn vow, but because your paramour might turn out to be a crazed killer? Some morality. Why not make a film where a guy orders a pizza, and the delivery boy turns out to be a stalking psycho? Then, after the Fatal Deliverer has been dispatched, you could have an epilogue about the importance of home-cooked meals. Why not interpret "Deliverance" as a cautionary tale about the immorality of canoe trips? Either makes as good an ethical argument.
"Fatal Attraction" is, in the end, a thriller, and not a religious tract. It stands on its worth as an example of the genre. As such, despite some performances ranging from the "okay" to the "pretty good," I find it overrated, and the butchering of the original script to suit the demands of a test audience and the ego of Michael Douglas, far more disturbing than anything in the film itself.
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