Tuesday, February 23, 2016

773. Fatal Attraction

Fatal Attraction
1987
Directed by Adrian Lyne









I saw the play adaptation of this in London with Kristin Davis and it was so painfully bad that my sister and I couldn't stop laughing during the performance.  We weren't the only ones (I think I heard someone else use the term "Fatal Production") but I still feel bad.  It did feel good to laugh that hard.

Dan Gallagher, a successful New York attorney, meets and is instantly attracted to Alex Forrest.  He's married, but since his wife and child are out of town, he takes the opportunity to have an affair with Alex.  He tries to pretend the whole thing never happened but Alex becomes increasingly obsessive.

I'm not quite sure what this says about me, but as I get older, I sympathize more and more with Alex.  I mean, he pursued her; she was just minding her own business!  And then when it is convenient for Dan, he just wants to pretend she doesn't exist!  This would be heartbreaking even if she wasn't pregnant (or allegedly pregnant).  Yes, she is a bit loony, but I do feel sorry for her, which I think makes this a very special kind of horror movie.

This definitely isn't the most empowering film I have ever seen.  Alex is a career woman, so the fact that she is hellbent on having a husband and child doesn't exactly make women look great.  But I just had a ton of fun with this one.  Glenn Close is absolutely phenomenal.  The fact that she lost the Best Actress Oscar to Cher...well, I can't even talk about it.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Glenn Close was pregnant when she filmed the reshoot.

15 comments:

  1. This movie accomplished what it set out to do---scare the hell out of us. If viewers didn't find it chilling, I am not sure what would chill them. Great acting, and lines from the movie can still scare me.

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  2. As I was watching it; I couldn't miss the irony that this is precisely the way men treat women on a daily basis. A woman ditches a man, he turns violent, she gets harassed and (in the worst cases) he kills her. And along the way, someone would label that as "true love" because he is fighting for his love. But, oh, the irony, if gender roles are reversed; she is crazy and this is a scary movie.

    Oh, well, don't mind me, I may be bitter because I relate with Glenn Close's character... for some weird reason :?

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    1. Omg I love that you said this. Especially the bit about relating to Glenn Close. All she wants is someone to go to the opera with her...But yes, if the roles were reversed this would be completely different. The woman would have been asking for it, for cheating on her husband anyway and it would be more of a cautionary tale than a horror movie.

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  3. Surely this is a cautionary tale that Michael Douglas brought on himself even if it all gets out of hand? And were the roles reversed I'm pretty sure that the whole premise would have failed because it would harassment and assault of a defenceless victim.

    Are you sure that you girls aren't just providing the harsh judgement on behalf of society's boys and then blaming them for it?

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  4. Well, I don't know the number in your countries but here there has been 15 women killed by their partners in just 2 months. These are just the women killed, let's not even start with harassment and beatings. I know girls who are too afraid of splitting for fear of the men's reaction. No just for the physical violence but for the gossips or sextortion they may produce. So this movie is happening every day with genders reversed and nobody seems scared - nobody affected by it at least. Yes, it probably would fail as a blockbuster because nobody cares.

    Regarding the kind of perverse cautionary tale this movie is about I have read this interesting post:
    https://ryancshowers.wordpress.com/tag/fatal-attraction-gender-roles/

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  5. I did wonder if there were some cultural differences here and that that might tie in with America generally being a more violent society.

    But that, in turn, is why the roles couldn't be reversed in the film. If it's the girl who's the bunny boiler then we can dismiss it as "It'd never happen in real life" or see her as an underdog getting her own back. It's OK to laugh at or just enjoy the popcorn thrill of the danger.

    But, if the man were the aggressor, then suddenly it's not so funny for all the reasons you've just explained. I can't laugh at that. At best the horror element becomes a gritty thriller. And we certainly wouldn't be sitting here wondering whether the threatening man just wanted to take someone to the opera.

    I'd agree with some of the article (and it's a while since I watched it so I can't comment on all the details of other parts). His family is indeed conservatively ideal and his wife is meeker during sex. But that's not necessarily judgemental. I took it as being that he was bored of his ideal life, wanted to try something a bit wilder and was arrogant enough to think that he could just do so without consequences. In the end he found that he wasn't as smart as he thought he was and that he should have appreciated what he had in the first place.

    In the shape of the film she had to be defeated and it would be pointless to speculate on alternative outcomes as that would be a totally different film. It's like saying that Bambi would be improved if only we hadn't seen the animal cruelty and therefore the mother had lived. Probably Glenn Close did represent the feminist, but its up to you how you take that. I always assumed that she would be a bit of a hero to at least the ladies watching. That's not a contradiction either; Dracula and most other horror antagonists are both the heroes and the villains of their movies. Most men I know saw her as a warning not to be naughty, whether or not they would be the type to think of doing so anyway. And some guys would probably see her as a silly bitch who got what she deserved. But what can you do? I'm not sure it's really every movie's responsibility to lecture on perfect morals.

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  6. I just said it was ironic because this is an everyday story for females. That doesn't diminish any other aspects of the film like supense, performance or whatever. I never said the film was bad.

    We can go on and on forever. The thing here is that our points of view are different because Amanda and I identify ourselves with Alex rather than with Michael Douglas' character and that affects to our viewing experience. We are just commenting our personal opinions.

    Sorry, I don't want to start a flame war in Amanda's blog so I will drop the matter here. I'm posting this movie in April in my blog, we can continue the debate there.

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  7. The reality is, in my opinion, that men are not going to understand what Amanda and Alex are saying here.
    (I am assuming Dessie is a man.If I am wrong, please correct me.)
    I apologize Alex, for continuing this debate, but I cannot let it go. :) Also, hank you Alex, for sharing that link. I read the entire post. These are the items that I think say it all. (that I agree with)

    "The film is built around the point of view of a straight, white male protagonist and his relationships with beautiful white women. "

    "Fatal Attraction says it is not a man’s fault if he engages in copulation outside the walls of his marriage, but rather holding the feminist woman responsible is the more accurate route to take when dispersing blame of a two-party-consented dalliance."

    "Not only is Fatal Attraction having its feminist figure insult the sanctity of the pure wife’s kitchen by having sex in it, but it says that even when a woman is trying to “act like a man”, as Alex does by being an unmarried career-woman, sex is a man’s game."

    "Literally, the wife, who condenses the idea of the conventional family image, kills the feminist and nullifies her attempts at terminating the classic concept of a family. Allegorically, Fatal Attraction is showing the world that the family dynamic of the dominant male and his compliant wife surpasses the feminist and her attempts to destroy that cultural ideal."
    I think it was a really good movie, and again, sorry Dessie, you don't get it. Also, Amanda and Alex are women, not girls.

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    1. I second that apology, Alex. I know you were going to end this debate and we just got fired up :-)

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    2. Wow, I'm speechless. Thank you for your support! As I say I will not pursue the matter but I think I couldn't add anything more to what you two have just said.

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  8. I just want to back Alex and Amanda up. I get what they are saying. The woman being the "villain" sets a different tone. If it was a man stalking and torturing a female, that's just a horror movie and it happens all the time. The fact that it's a woman makes it more interesting and leads to more discussion. I think Dessie confused that statement with you saying Alex was a feminist icon?

    It's problematic that Dessie said if the roles were reversed it would automatically be about a defenseless victim (woman=victim). And that we were being to harsh on "boys" in our society. Not sure you could be more simplistic or condescending than that.

    I'm not surprised, because it's hard for men to understand the perspective and the pervasiveness of violence against women that we are so painfully aware of.

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  9. I promise, I'm not the next Milo Yiannopolous. Nor the previous one either, for that matter, as he's somewhat younger than me. And don't worry, I'm not going to start any flame war over it. It's an interesting topic and I'm interested to hear other views.

    My reason for speaking up in the first place was purely the ideas of how it would differ if the gender roles were reversed. It would all depend upon how the movie was made, of course, but I certainly wouldn't think that the man would be fighting for his love if he stalked the family. The greater the extent to which the aggressor is the physically stronger party, the nastier the whole premise becomes. It's been discussed often elsewhere on this blog how unnecessarily often that angle is lazily used, particularly involving rape, to create 'entertaining' tension.

    Here, with the female being the aggressor, it works on a different angle. Douglas, to me at least, is an extension of the guy who pats a girl on the bum in a bar because he thinks he can and because he thinks he's that cool. But she turns around and throws her drink all over him leaving him looking like a lemon while everyone laughs at him. He got his comeuppance. As a viewer I wanted him and his family to get out of the situation because they're in mortal danger. But I can't say that I ever sympathised with him. It would be interesting to watch again and note the details in how it was made. Was I unsympathetic because the filmmakers wanted me to be (which you would dispute) or was it because I disagreed with all the points that the filmmakers inserted to try and make me sympathetic to him and to blame Glenn Close? I don't know. I can safely say that I never identified with the man. Possibly the rabbit. What did it ever do to hurt anyone?

    On a similar note, I never understood in The Firm why Tom Cruise's wife was so willing to stand by him after his indiscretion. She has a little cry, in the manner of someone discovering that their baking creation has sunk and needs to be thrown out, and then gets on with the business of fighting for her man. It struck me that even if she didn't want to see the bad guys get away with implicitly mistreating her in that way, the first thing she needed to do after that film was divorce her husband.

    I wouldn't say that the woman would "automatically" be a victim. But if Fatal Attraction were re-shot with gender roles reversed, scene for scene, line for line, with just a few minor edits to account for practical differences, then yes I think it would have more of a victim angle than it currently has. Then it's Cape Feare. Then I'm not laughing at the victim. Would the film have to be made that way? Of course not. But that's another story.

    I wouldn't claim to know exactly how it feels to be a woman in these situations. My understanding is that it's far worse in the US, but I'm sure there are bigger problems than I can see in the UK. I've certainly sat around many times with guys making casual sexist remarks that leave me bewildered why these things cross their mind. And when I say something they are equally bewildered that these same jokes aren't funny in my mind. Or, more likely as they see it, that I feel some odd need to pretend that they're not funny.

    Perhaps my other motivation for first entering into this conversation was the assumption that all men think the same way. Just because I'm not you, doesn't mean that I must by binary default be the opposite viewpoint you dislike. I'm only me.

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  10. Great article, Alex! I was obviously kidding about the opera:). It is interesting to think of what this film would be like if the roles were reversed. I was recently at the movies (I won't specify which one in case that is considered a spoiler) and when it was revealed that a woman had slept with another man someone in the audience yelled at "whore!" I think the audience would have been rooting for the crazy stalker if the roles were reversed. But I can't wait to read Alex's post about it.

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