Jude Law turns on the caddish charm in Alfie, but there’s little sassiness or swing to this toothless update of the minor late-‘60s film that made Michael Caine a star. With his cheeky smile and chic wardrobe, Law has a lovably raffish magnetism that fits the iconic role, yet he’s cute when he should be nasty, playful when he should be slightly off-putting. Unlike Caine’s outstanding performance—which mingled macho swagger with subtle misogyny and unwarranted arrogance—Law makes his Alfie (who still addresses the camera whenever possible) too adorable, too nice, to elicit anything more than a yawn. And though this modern-day Alfie, who works as a NYC limo driver, carouses until the wee hours of the morning, his didactic comeuppance is so wearisomely preordained that there’s little fun to be had watching the lothario love, and then leave, a whole bevy of ladies (including Nia Long, Sienna Miller, Marisa Tomei, and Susan Sarandon). The original Alfie was notable for its then-radical critique of the late-‘60s sexual revolution, depicting both the hedonistic fun—and then sobering costs—of indulging in free love romps. Charles Shyer’s remake (written by Shyer and Elaine Pope) maintains the basic premise of its source material, yet by not imbuing its story with any larger significance, the film turns out to be merely a depiction of one shallow man’s realization that commitment is far preferable to unfulfilling one-night stands. Duh. With nothing less than this obvious moral guiding it, Alfie falls into a hopelessly repetitive cycle: Alfie has meaningless sex, suffers some unpleasant consequence, and then does it again until, after this song-and-dance has played out five or six times, the stud begins to realize the error of his ways. Shyer predictably tries to gussy his film up by using ‘60s-era split screens and a retro score highlighted by Mick Jagger’s gratingly clunky “Old Habits Die Hard.” But the embarrassing obviousness of the film’s Manhattan billboards (emblazoned with symbolic slogans like “Desire,” “Search,” and “Wish”), as well as the fact that Gedde Watanabe—20 years after starring as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles—remains stuck speaking broken English on-screen, is emblematic of this Alfie remake’s uninspired lack of evolution.
- Charles Shyer
- Charles Shyer, Elaine Pope
- Jude Law, Omar Epps, Nia Long, Marisa Tomei, Sienna Miller, Julienne Davis, Graydon Carter, Jane Krakowski, Gedde Watanabe
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: