Wednesday November 3, 2010 21:53

Movie #0033 – Fatal Attraction (1987)

Posted by Michael

Directed by: Adrian Lyne
Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer
Picture credit: Blu-ray Definition
First Viewing

Synopsis: After a one-weekend affair, a man finds himself at the mercy of an increasingly obsessed woman.

This is a film that has inspired quite a few movies in the years since its release — the most recent one I can think of is the almost comically bad Obsessed — and it’s fairly clear, watching it now for the first time, that this is still probably the best entry in the “(blank) from hell” subgenre. And in fact, Box Office Mojo has a ranking of these films, and Fatal Attraction is still on top, and by a fairly wide margin. Often imitated, never duplicated.

So why does this movie work as well as it does? For one thing, there is Adrian Lyne’s assured direction, which is stylish without being overly ostentatious, and which keeps things moving at a pretty good pace. The film takes its time setting everything up, and the slow reveal of the frightening extent of Glenn Close’s insanity is pretty much perfect. Of course, Close was nominated for an Oscar for her work here, which is definitely well deserved; it’s a chilling performance, and certainly, quite memorable. Anne Archer was rightfully nominated for an Oscar as well — she probably deserved the nom if only for the powerful scene in which Douglas tells her of his affair, but the rest of her performance was just as good. Douglas himself has a slightly more thankless role than the two women (and he went nomination-free), but he’s easily at their level.

There are a lot of great moments here, but the one that easily stood out for me is the final confrontation between Archer and Close. It’s set in a bathroom, and I’m fairly certain it’s meant to recall the famous shower scene from Psycho (but with a bath filling in for a shower), and it was pretty jaw-dropping. Certainly, Hitchcock would be proud. The direction, editing and score are all pitch-perfect, and the scene is electrifying. Of course, that whole sequence was famously a reshoot (much to Ms. Close’s chagrin); while the original ending may have been more thematically appropriate (I haven’t seen it, but I think that was Close’s objection), cinematically speaking, this one was pretty perfect.

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