“A married man’s one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.”

Director: Adrian Lyne
Writers: James Dearden
Staring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer
Release Date: September 18, 1987

Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a married man with a beautiful wife Beth (Anne Archer) and a young daughter Ellen (Ellen Latzen). His life seems ideal, but having enough is never enough. Dan meets Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) at a business function and there is undeniable attraction. The pair stumble into each other again, and before you know it, they have stumbled between the bed sheets.

Dan and Alex share a weekend and it is lovely for a time, but it turns into a mental torture chamber at the flick of a switch. Dan is trying to put the experience in perspective, AKA trying to forget it. Alex on the other hand, has been attached…to the most extreme degree. Alex goes to extreme lengths to stay in contact with Dan, including but not limited to going to his work, constantly calling his home, wrecking his car and killing Ellen’s bunny.

In the end Dan has to confront the deed he has done. He and Beth must confront each other’s feelings, and then the hunting and potential fatal mindset of Alex. An affair is always a dangerous thing, but Fatal Attraction turns the dial up to 11 and asks the audience to ride along.

So here is a burning question. One that has to be asked. Was Alex really pregnant with Dan’s child? Is that proven beyond the shadow of a doubt?

Turns out there is a very funny story of this little unanswered mystery. Glenn Close was pregnant when reshoots for the movie were happening, and then when the Academy Awards came around, they presented together. Close was eight months pregnant at the time, and it led to a very funny moment at the Academy Awards which directly applied to Fatal Attraction the motion picture.

In terms of the film itself and whether or not the character of Alex was pregnant, I am of the believe that she was not pregnant. I think that she was making up the lie in order to keep Dan within her grasp. This would pose some problems for Alex because it’s only short term; what would happen when she doesn’t have a baby? For Alex it doesn’t matter; this is merely a short term solution to elongate trying to solve the problem of her being lonely. It is fair that she does love the idea of being a mom; she kidnaps Ellen, takes her around and does everything a mom would love to do.

WE have spoken of the character Alex enough, but I guess it’s time to talk about Glenn Close and everyone else performing in Fatal Attraction.

Close is psychotic. She plays the part of crazy very well, and he does know how to turn on the smokiness when the sexiness is necessary. Close has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, most recently being Hillbilly Elegy (2021) which now has a lot of alarming connotations around it. Her performance is over-the-top; it is meant to be absurd. Looking at her fellow nominees from the 1988 Academy Awards, Close lost out to Cher in Moonstruck (1987), which knowing the reputation of the movie, makes a lot of sense. She was also against Holly Hunter in Broadcast News (1987), which has been on my watchlist for almost a decade. I should get on that.

Close is good in Fatal Attraction, but she is third fiddle to the other two major performers in the movie.

Have yourself a year Michael Douglas. Fatal Attraction gets eight nominations, and Douglas himself gets nominated and wins for Wall Street (1987). He has been nominated twice for Academy Awards, and he was won both times; Wall Street and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

In Fatal Attraction, Douglas artfully blends the selfishness of a cheater and egocentric maniac, with the manically worrisome stress that comes from someone dealing with a truth they can not share. There are moments in the story where Adrian Lyne and writer James Dearden highlight how Dan thinks for himself and himself alone. Douglas takes that spotlight and allows a shadow of empathy to creep in once Alex gets passed the point of normality. In the end you are cheering for him to reconcile with his wife, well at least I was. My girlfriend was still on the side of Beth.

Anne Archer gives the best performance of Fatal Attraction. Also, if we are the tangible sexual tension train, Archer is far more attractive than Close. Beth is a kinder, prettier, and more patient women than Alex…yet Dan still cheated on her. What an asshole! But sticking back to Archer, she is remarkable in her short time on the screen. The innocence in her eyes, followed by the angry defiance once she learns the truth, is hard to look away from. When she essentially tells Alex to fuck off on the phone, whoof that may have been the hottest thing she did in the entire movie.

Fatal Attraction was nominated for six Academy Awards at the 1988 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing. The National Board of Review also named it as one of the top ten movies of 1987.

My mind is of two different mindsets. I enjoyed Fatal Attraction for what it was; a sexual thriller that aimed to entertain. Viewing the movie, I was not thinking of any particular aspects that were award worthy. There are certain moments that are immensely enjoyable, but there are certain aspects that make me cringe and shake my head. For example, when Dan Gallagher is in the room with Beth Gallagher and Alex Forrest and the trio are intermingling…that is awesome stuff. Seeing Dan squirm in this way is not awkward. Rather it is a horror movie. What is awkward is when Dan gets to his car and there is just acid all over it? How did Alex know how to do that? Or when the bunny is killed. I laughed. The way that was edited and staged was comical, just like Phillip Seymour Hoffman gets tossed down a street in a wheelchair on fire in Red Dragon (2002).

One of the biggest recommendation I can give Fatal Attraction is that it has enough to suck in the casual viewer. I had this movie on in my house and my girlfriend was popping her head in and out asking questions about what was happening. Then when it came to the ending, she sat down and watched it in its entirety. Fatal Attraction has a magnetic pull to it, but the attraction is not as strong history or reputation deems it.

STANKO RATING: B- (3.0/5 Stars)


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