Fatal Attraction

1987, Movie, R, 119 mins


FATAL ATTRACTION was more than a box-office smash; it was a cultural phenomenon. This story of an extramarital fling that turns into a nightmare begins as a well-crafted psychological thriller but degenerates into a misogynistic thrill-fest in its closing moments.

Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a Manhattan lawyer with a gorgeous wife (Anne Archer) and a six-year-old daughter. When he first meets Alex (Glenn Close), he is intrigued, but unavailable. On another weekend, though, a chance meeting brings Dan and Alex together for a passionate two-night stand in her apartment. When Dan tries to say his final goodbye and return to his family, he gets the first hint that Alex is not entirely rational and has become obsessed with him. That obsession soon turns life into an escalating nightmare for Dan and his family.

Screenwriter James Dearden has created a set of initially believable characters, placed them in a familiar situation, and then drastically upped the stakes. Unfortunately, motivations and psychological concerns are thrown out the window in the final reel. The blame for this doesn't rest entirely with Dearden or director Adrian Lyne; the producers tested the original ending (Alex commits suicide, but not before implicating Dan as her murderer) and preview audiences found it less than satisfying. The thrill-a-minute conclusion was then shot and substituted.

Notwithstanding the ending, the performances are excellent. Playing against type, Close is overtly libidinous, while at the same time making her obsession and slide into madness convincing and pathetic. Douglas also gives a performance of reasonable depth, and Archer does a nice turn as his implicitly frigid but alluring wife. leave a comment

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