Fatal Attraction (1987)

Fatal Attraction
Directed by Adrian Lyne
Written by James Dearden based on his short film.
(number 351)

Here’s another film which you hear a lot about without actually seeing it. There’s one thing in particular that you hear about this film, and it’s also the reason why Anna should never see it. #BunnyBoiler

I guess it’s one I had always been interested in – just out of curiosity, also because it is one of those films which get parodied or homaged to quite often. I hadn’t realised it had been nominated for so many academy awards. It seems like it’s not the kind of fim which would get nominated these days, it seems like a pulp film, below their notice. Different times, I suppose.

I’m interested in Michael Douglas’s character because Dan seems like such the cookie cutter of the Michael Bateman type, a successful capitalist man’s man in suits. He’s a twist on it though because he is happily married and relatively devoted to his wife and family. And the other twist: he gets punished for breaking the family mould and sleeping around. It is kind of horribly satisfying to see the police be so useless when Dan goes in for help – a gender twist on the woman going to complain about being harrassed and basically being told she deserved it and there’s nothing they can do but catch the culprit in the act. Not a fun scene but an interesting use of it, I feel.

The sex scenes with Glenn Close are pretty raunchy, I can see how this caused a stir in the late eighties alone, let alone what happens later. It’s a very familiar storyline, not sure if this film originated it or not: textbook love sequences with raunch and playing around and tenderness, but then of course the darkness seeps in. She immediately goes to violent emotional manipulation and goodness. It’s scary. It also seems like classic behaviour for a manipulative partner.

The bunny sequence is shocking even when you know it’s coming – I can’t imagine the reaction in the theatres at the first releases. It’s especially awful because of how it doesn’t target Dan – it hurts his daughter first and foremost, and Beth for discovering it. He is forced to tell what happened, forced to deal with the fall out and how it hurts them.

The last half hour moves into classic horror territory with Alex popping up seemingly from nowhere, and the scenes in the country house becoming increasingly scary.

Does it make me love the people? Sure, you like Dan and there’s nothing but sympathy for Beth and Ellen. At first you feel sympathy for Alex too, you’re taken in just as Dan is because she seems sweet and fun. She lost all of it when she accused him of being gay for not doing what she wanted :/

Bechdel test: The babysitter talks to the daughter Ellen very early on, but the babysitter is not named. Martha the secretary talks to Alex over the phone but we only hear the secretary’s side of things. Hildy and Beth talk while they’re at a dinner party with their husbands but it’s sort of all four of them talking at once so I don’t think that counts. Beth and Ellen can be heard enjoying a bed time story together but it’s off screen, does that count? They’re both named women and talking about not-men…? Finally a definitive pass, Alex is in the house talking to Beth. It’s small talk about the apartment and definitely not about men. So many near misses before then! Later Beth and Ellen are shown on screen talking and practising her lines for the school play, so it’s a definite pass a couple times over. Nice to have so many named women to choose from!

Best line:

Dan: so you’re just gonna show up at my apartment?
Alex: Well, what am I supposed to do? You won’t answer my calls, you change your number. I’m not gonna be IGNORED, Dan.

State of Mind: It got really tense at the end there. I didn’t like the jump scares… but overall a great movie. I’m not sure if I’d watch it again but the performances really are incredible. Virtuoso stuff from Glenn Close. I feel good for having seen it properly – I’m sure I’ve seen clips of it here and there, and certain moments were so familiar to me – but I think because of endless homages.

Watched movie count


2 thoughts on “Fatal Attraction (1987)

    • Interesting, I might seek out some of his stuff. Having given this film a few days I think I could watch it again quite happily

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