Fatal Attraction (1987)


Talk about the poster that stands out.
Talk about the poster that stands out.

Genre: Thriller

Starring: Michael Douglas (Basic Instinct • Traffic), Glenn Close (Dangerous Liaisons“Damages”)

Directed By: Adrian Lyne (Jacob’s LadderIndecent Proposal)

Overview: After a married man breaks off a weekend affair, the other woman won’t take no for an answer.

Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a happily married lawyer. Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) is a book editor. The two of them meet and hit it off. Dan’s wife (Anne Archer) is away for the weekend and, like hot rutting pigs, Alex and Dan have a wild weekend full of pork. Dan tries to return to his life, but Alex isn’t quite as accommodating. In fact when he puts his foot down and leaves, Alex slashes her wrists. Dan bandages her up, but it doesn’t stop him from ending their fling. Alex isn’t the kind of woman to let her man leave without a fight – and she does what she must to keep him.

Fatal Attraction was a critical success when it hit theaters in 1987, including 6 Oscar nominations, and it’s a good fun, thrilling movie. Fatal Attractions greatest strength is in the character of Alexandra Forrest, played to perfection by Glenn Close. The awesome that is Alex’s pure-distilled madness also comes from how quickly director Adrian Lyne unleashes the action – starting with a wrist-slashing suicide attempt and moving on to phone calls and stalking before the movie’s even reached the mid-point. 

From the first moment we see her, Alex already looks like a psycho, with Glenn’s witchy-wild hair, her piercing eyes and sharp nose. Glenn has a terrifying way of keeping Alex unsettling and sexy at the same time. Even the way she romps is dangerous, whether it’s in an elevator or while Dan’s doing the nasty while blindly walking off a landing from his kitchen to the living room.

I was scared stiff…

No it's not a back alley, it's a wicked NYC loft, I could see how you got confused.
No it's not a back alley, it's a wicked NYC loft, I could see how you got confused.

The pacing is perfect, the little shocks of insanity are thrilling and original and it’s wonderful entertainment. If you haven’t seen it, Fatal Attraction is just a touch yardstick of 80s cinema enough to be worth adding this feather to your repertoire-cap... but let me dwell one interesting observation.

Fatal Attraction’s illicit affair opens without any real context outside of pure lust. Dan and Alex only meet a handful of times – at work, at a party, then next for a drink at a restaurant. There, during their first real ‘getting to know you’ conversation, Alex propositions a happily married man who jumps right in. I found it interesting to note that from that point on, the audience would be receptive to watching Dan get whatever’s coming to him because he couldn’t keep it in his pants. With a subtext of failing marriage and an angry/bitter/sick wife we’d be much more likely to resent Alex for her actions, be put off by the ‘distribution of injustice’ if I can coin a phrase. When I realized that early on, I looked forward to descending down the rabbit hole Alex was taking us down. See what I spoiler-free did there?

 Y'know, all she really needed was just a hug and a glass of Merlot.
Y'know, all she really needed was just a hug and a glass of Merlot.

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 7 Script: 8 Plot: 9 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 82% (You Won't Be Able To Get Away)

The Wikipedia entry for Fatal Attraction is also quite interesting, including a section about an alternate (original) ending and a wonderful psychiatric diagnosis section detailing the Erotomania that Glenn Close modelled her character’s mental illness on. It’s a fun read, check it out.

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