Fatal Attraction (1987)
Douglas Gets too Close to a Bonking Bunny Boiler
I guess you thought you'd get away with it. Well, you can't - Alex
For at least the first three quarters "Fatal Attraction" is an impressive movie, revolving in the real world delivering a really good psychological thriller. Shame then during that last quarter for some reason all that clever work was thrown away for a sensationalist ending more akin to a horror movie with its ludicrous climax and loss of realism. It is a shame because if they had managed to find a clever rather than sensational ending "Fatal Attraction" would have been better than just ok.
When his wife and daughter go away for a weekend, lawyer Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas - The Jewel of the Nile) embarks on a steamy sexual affair with associate editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close - The Natural), but as soon as his wife returns he ends it without a second thought. Except Alex doesn't want it over stalking Dan every day with phone calls and visits and nothing will stop her till she gets her man.
The main storyline to "Fatal Attraction" is very good as it explores the world of an extra marital affair and the filming of the actual affair between Dan and Alex is stunning. You get the seduction, the romance and of course the steamy sex. It's a heady mix which really works with several scenes such as the sex in the kitchen and also in the elevator sticking long in your mind after the movie ends and not just because they titillate. But at the same time it develops those two characters, Dan a lawyer is almost blase about having the affair, enjoying the kindred spirit he finds in Alex but wants nothing more, whilst Alex a seductive glamorous woman shows the signs of being slightly insecure, in need of someone.
The second part of the movie builds upon this, you get a real sense of Dan being completely without remorse over having this affair whilst Alex being the spurned woman demanding more. It's clever and mirrors real life quite masterfully as Alex begins to stalk Dan, turning up at his home and office, whilst calling at all hours. The developments work well and so does the sense of fear which Dan encounters as he realises that this passionate weekend affair could ruin him.
As the movie goes on it gets better reaching the point that Alex no longer wants explanation or some sort of relationship but revenge. Again there is that frightening mirroring of real life leading to the famous part of the movie which is the disturbing bunny boiling scene.
But then having built up such a good story of love, resentment and revenge mixed with panic and fear it ruins it all. I have no understanding of why but in delivering a sensational climax it moves away from being realistic. Character developments are thrown to the side and we get an ending more akin to a horror movie than a clever psychological thriller. It spoils things and whilst some may enjoy this sensationalist ending it's too out of place for me.
Despite the ending it's hard to ignore the stunning performances from Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. Douglas creates such a real yet horrible character that you sort of hate him. Here you have a family man who embarks on an affair with such a callous manner that he shows no real remorse when he just ends it and you question why do it anyway when he has such a lovely wife and daughter. Then you have Glenn Close who delivers that flirtatious seductive side perfectly almost to the point that you believe that she is truly in love with Dan. Yet when she embarks on her campaign of revenge she is as scary and sinister as they come. If any man was considering having an affair they only need to watch Close's woman scorned to have second thoughts. Together Douglas and Close work together exceptionally well delivering a sense of believability right up to the end, well almost if you ignore the sensational and out of place climax.
Aside from Douglas and Close, Anne Archer does a nice turn as the homely wife, although I do question why they ignored her character development when it came to the ending. Plus Stuart Pankin does a nice job in the small part of Jimmy.
What this all boils down to is that "Fatal Attraction" is a good movie, it delivers impressive performances from Glenn Close and Michael Douglas and a storyline which is a great psychological thriller based on realism. It's just a shame that they spoilt it by delivering a manufactured sensationalist ending which is more akin to the unbelievably of horror than a movie which up until then had been firmly based in the real world.
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