- Movie Rating -

Fatal Attraction (1987)

| September 18, 1987

You don’t have to look very closely to see that Fatal Attraction is basically a swift backhand to self-indulgent white male privilege.  This is an incredibly tense thriller from one end to the other, a warning flag to men who, for generations, have found it just fine to slither up to beautiful single women with a power of a snake charmer and then dispose of them afterwards with all the subtle charms of a used Kleenex.

The man at the center is Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) a wealthy lawyer with a beautiful wife, an adorable daughter, a luxurious home and all of the toys that such privilege could offer.  He’s also good-looking and arrogant beyond words.  He’s the kind of guy for whom money can buy his way out of nearly anything.  That is until he meets Alex Forest (Glenn Close) at a party and, on a weekend when the wife and daughter are away in the country, the two of them engage in a torrid sexual affair. 

The aftermath should be quite simple.  Dan dumps Alex and assumes that’s it, but she becomes the one-night stand that won’t take a hike.  She keeps showing up.  She calls his house.  She follows him where ever he goes.  She becomes a red-hot tick burrowing her way into his life.

From this description, I’ve probably made Fatal Attraction sound like a fairly standard stalker thriller, but director Adrian Lynn knows how to ratchet tension.  The screenplay written by James Dearden is built on logic so that we follow it with a sense of fear and nervous tension.  We come to fear for the Douglas character even though we know that he’s a rat, but he’s acting on logical instinct.

For about three-quarters of the way through, this was one of the great thrillers of recent years, a movie set up with a cinema artist’s great skill, a motivation that Hitchcock might have employed.  Sadly, it doesn’t hold up.  I think the third act is kind of a let down, a slasher movie ending that isn’t worthy of what came before it.  So how do I rate it?  Do I tell you to leave 20 minutes early?  Might not be a bad idea because until that finale, this was shaping up to be one of the best films of the year.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Thriller