Passion can be futile.
According to a study, 17 percent of marriages end in divorce due to infidelity and roughly 50-70 percent of married men have or will cheat on their wives. To put that into perspective, that covers between 38-53 million people! In Fatal Attraction, a man engages in a weekend affair with a woman and thinks nothing of it, moving forward after the fling. Only things get worse as a series of events unfolds causing the man’s life to turn into a living hell. “I’m not going to be ignored Dan!” says the woman — an iconic quote and one that proves who really has the say so.
Michael Douglas is Dan Gallagher, a happy family man who is successful as a Manhattan Lawyer. He has a loving wife Beth (Anne Archer) and a daughter Ellen (Ellen Latzen). Life is good as the family is looking to move outside the city and enjoy the suburbia setting away from the hustle and bustle of New York. During a party Dan meet Alex Forrest (Glenn Close). They spot each immediately and we know that there is an attraction between them. Alex is an editor for a publishing company that is working on a risqué novel that Dan’s law firm is representing. After work one day, Dan and Alex have dinner together and discuss life. Dan’s wife and daughter have left the city for the weekend to view a house and stay with family. The attraction becomes all too real and both Dan and Alex succumb to temptation.
After a weekend fling of sex and hanging out, it is understood that it was just a one-time moment and that no relationship will continue, at least that what Dan thinks. Alex is shocked that Dan can just move on and that he feels no passion for her. Beth and Ellen return home and Dan continues with his life as if nothing happened and keeps the affair a secret from everyone. Soon the phone calls start, the occasional “popping in” and the persistent need for Alex to see Dan. It’s disrupting his life and he just wants to forget the whole thing and move on; that is until a revelation is revealed, Alex is pregnant! Everything goes downhill from that moment on.
Over the years, Fatal Attraction has been known for two things, the bunny rabbit scene and the powerful and scary performance by Glenn Close. I will admit, Glenn Close is fantastic to watch in this film. We get a glimpse of what is happening to her and wonder what her younger years were like. She’s regarded as the villain in this film, but when you think about it, isn’t Dan more of the villain here?
Sure, Alex does things that a good person wouldn’t normally do like stalking the family, constant phone calls to the house with no answer when someone picks up the receiver and even throwing acid on Dan’s car. Yes, we know that bad people do those things. But I look at Dan as the real villain. He used the opportunity of his wife being away for the weekend to engage in an affair which leads to all that is happening to him and his family. Why should I feel sorry for him? He’s the liar and the coward. There’s a great moment when Dan contacts the police and tells them that a friend of his is going through the situation that he in fact is going through, at that moment we can really see what kind of person he is.
What makes this film stand out is how real it feels. The characters aren’t special in their jobs and they don’t possess superhuman abilities. They are everyday people. These are people we see on the way to work, at the supermarket, maybe these people are our friends. Adrian Lyne (Unfaithful) directs this film with a screenplay that is credited to James Dearden which is based on his short film Diversion.
Released on September 18, 1987 Fatal Attraction was a box office smash becoming the highest-grossing film of that year and earning six Academy Award Nominations. Unfortunately, the film didn’t win any awards, but Glenn Close’s performance is hard to forget. Prior to filming, Close contacted two psychiatrists and asked them if her character were possible and if so, why? Her research into her character also makes us wonder what happened to Alex during her youth. Over the year, Close has been approached by men who recognized her in the film and thanked her for “saving their marriage.” Her performance is terrifying as it can be all too real, but when I look at the film I see Alex as damaged, and Dan is the real villain.
What I enjoyed most about Fatal Attraction is the strong performance of Glenn Close. She’s not going to be ignored and wants to be recognized. I get tired of seeing women in movies as the “Damsel in Distress” and instead want more women to act. Now, the things that Alex does is not so nice, but I get why. She’s tossed away by Dan and her reaction is probably something that relates to her psychosis. The film was bold enough to discuss the topics of infidelity and abortion which I think makes the film even more plausible and relatable to the audience.
The ending was changed because the test audience didn’t feel pleased. The crew was called back to reshoot the ending which is in the theatrical cut. Glenn Close objected to the film’s ending and felt that the Madame Butterfly ending was how it should’ve ending. Either way, Fatal Attraction is a solid thriller that still relates to today. Relationships, marriages and affairs still happen. A more updated yet darker version of this film would be Gone Girl which deals with similar themes. The chemistry between Douglas and Close is very convincing and the script is very well written, but who do you think is the villain in this film? Whatever you think, Fatal Attraction is one film that stabs you in the heart and will have you talking long after the film ends.
Passion can be futile. Fatal Attraction is a real potboiler! Oops, didn’t mean to say it like that!