Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) goes playing in the Meat Packing District with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) when his goody-two-shoes wife leaves for the weekend. Not one to be ignored, Alex goes psycho-bitch when the wife returns and Dan ends their affair. Sure, Alex may be little more than a bunny-boiling stalker and James Dearden’s screenplay is rather unconcerned with the details of her psychosis but Fatal Attraction is still notable for Close’s resilient, complex performance. There’s no subtlety to Dearden’s words (“If looks could kill,” “I love animals,” and “I’m a great cook”) though Close creates a history’s worth of bottled-up repression with her every gesture (the twitch of her lips, the deadness of her stare). Director Adrian Lyne is an underrated visualist. Here he does fabulous things with layers and Howard Atherton’s anemic, unnerving soft-lighting, not to mention Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Still, without the film’s original ending (where Alex’s suicide was set to the opera), the musical reference is lost amid the film’s existing, audience-pleasing showdown between jilted fling and courageous wife. Fatal Attraction is less an all-encompassing comment on females in general than it is a startling reminder of Close’s ability to give a physical face to the subtext of one woman’s inner torment. While Alex’s behavior seems possible, Lyne’s fabulous camera crawls and Close’s frozen stares have never been able to fully compensate for Dearden’s shoddy attention to character history.
- Adrian Lyne
- James Dearden, Nicholas Meyer
- Michael Douglas, Gleen Close, Anne Archer, Ellen Hamilton Latzen, Stuart Pankin, Ellen Foley, Fred Gwyne, Meg Mundy, Tom Brennan, Lois Smith
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