Fatal Attraction (1987) – Adrian Lyne

 

The final film in the recommendations from my screening of Les Enfants du Paradis for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book, is this dramatic thriller from the late 80s, that saw Michael Douglas mucking up his marriage to Anne Archer, and Glenn Close boiling a pet bunny.

Douglas plays Dan Gallagher, happily married to Beth (Archer), with a wonderful daughter, who longs for a bunny rabbit as a pet. A chance meeting with Alex Forrest (Close) sparks an immediate attraction between her and Dan, and despite his claims of being happy in his marriage, embarks on a weekend affair with her while Beth and child are out-of-town.

Things take a turn into crazyville when Alex seems a little more off-center than she seems, as she not only begins stalking Dan, but his family as well, while claiming she is now pregnant with his child.

Now, while I agree with Alex that Dan needs to acknowledge what he’s done and take responsibility for it, this is taken to the extreme by Alex, and while, much like Dan, you may like her at the beginning of the film. Like is too strong of a word. If you are intrigued by her at the beginning of the film, by the time Dan is heading home on the Sunday evening, and she’s made her first dramatic turn, a cry for help,or just a way of keeping him close, you know things aren’t going to go well.

I love the bit with the constant phone calls, because I was getting anxious with each and every one, afraid Alex was upping the ante in some new and creepy way.

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I agree that what Dan did was wrong, something he comes to truly regret, and finally comes clean about, but you have to wonder what that will mean for their relationship after the credits roll and we’re left looking at a family photograph. Will the trauma and trial reunite the family, or will Beth and the little girl go on without Dan, will they work on things? Trust is certainly hard to come by I’m sure, though after that experience, I’m sure Dan’s wandering days are done.

It’s definitely a cautionary tale, and more than a little unnerving, all deftly directed by Lyne, and marvelously acted.

Honestly, the only real problem I had was the thought of how Dan would cheat on Beth. A choice between Alex (even before we know she’s crazy) and Beth, for me, is no choice at all, Beth seems the better more appealing choice, on every level. Hopefully this is a situation I never find myself in. EVER.

The film still works, though I found myself wondering how it would play today, updated with all the venues of social media added in. It can be a scary world out there, and just because someone looks normal… well what’s normal?

Watching this one, I was put in mind, over and over of Tom Hanks’ exchanges with his character’s son in Sleepless In Seattle..

Sam: Didn’t you see Fatal Attraction?

Jonah: You wouldn’t let me!

Sam: Well I saw it and it scared the shit out of me! It scared the shit out of every man in America!

Classic. And true.

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