'Fatal Attraction' turns 25

By Robert Kirchgassner,

Fatal Attraction is another film which celebrates its silver anniversary this year.

The movie, in which Michael Douglas plays married man Dan Gallagher whose weekend fling with colleague Alex Forrest (played by Glenn Close) blows up in his face as she begins to force herself into his life and that of his wife Beth (Anne Archer).

Hollywood has basically been trying to remake it in the years since as films such as Poison Ivy (1992), Fear (1996) and Swimfan (2002) have shown.
However, unlike the other films I have recently reviewed, this is not a favorite of mine.

The reason for that is Dan turns out to be the least sympathetic in the film, which is surprising considering how much Alex is built up as a monster during the course of the story.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone putting rabbits (or any animals) in boiling water, but the fact remains that much of the torment Dan and Beth go through in this film could have easily been avoided if he, the happily married man he claims to be, simply walked away at the beginning.

I appreciate that the screenplay wanted to set things into motion due to a mistake the protagonist makes, but the viewer should still have a solid reason for siding with said protagonist and the film, I felt, did not give us such a reason (indeed, Dan basically does his darnedest to hide his fling from Beth until very late in the movie).

Dan, when all is said and done, is basically set up to be the hero not only by the audience, but the other characters in the film except Alex. The movie’s final shot, of a picture of Dan, Beth and their child, basically tells the viewer that all is forgiven, even though he does nothing to earn that forgiveness (indeed I have seen the original ending and agree that there is nice, dramatic irony which is lacking in the slasher film-esque climax which ended up in theaters, but even this is undermined by the fact that Dan still ends up triumphant in the end).

The best thing about Attraction is Close, who is both scary and pitiable. She deservedly earned an Oscar nomination for her performance. I just wish that a stronger story should have been built around that great performance.

 
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