Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fatal Attraction (1987)

By Eric Jessen 7/11/09

Fatal Attraction is a dowdy version of Play Misty for Me (1971). It has some of the same cheap thrills but lacks the punch, the bite, the sheer twisted ludicrous insanity. This review may not be fair, I loved Play Misty for Me, but because both movies have the exact same story we must compare the two. There probably wouldn't be a Fatal Attraction if there wasn't a Play Misty for Me. Also the bathtub “Fatal” ending is straight out of Henri-Georges Clouzot's Les Diaboliques (1955). This is a copycat movie.
The details are different but the premise is the same. Michael Douglas is a lawyer, Clint Eastwood, a radio disc jockey. They both have one night stands with desperate women. Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction doesn't initially seem as crazy as Jessica Walter was in Play Misty for Me. (By the way, Close is the “Attraction”? Her hair made her look like a troll doll.) Close and Walter turn out to be nutty and become obsessed with their respective movie hunks. When Douglas and Eastwood try to blow them off they both attempt suicide. Now the two men have serious hassles on their hands. They've got steady relationships to worry about. Douglas also has to worry about his daughter. Both Eastwood and Douglas are afraid the object of their “weekend of fun” will spill the beens. They don't know the half of it. These women are beyond a hush problem, they're deranged and vindictive. Eastwood and Douglas are in for some serious torture.
Both of these movies have their moments of chilling horror, but Play Misty for Me digs deep, it's memorable. You'll be sleeping fine after Fatal Attraction. The main reason: Play Misty for Me has stronger performances. Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me was tawdry and tasted rotten, perfect. Glenn Close is too upscale a psycho bi---. I only wanted her dead half of the time. The other half I thought, maybe they'll work it out. Walter loomed over Play Misty for Me with a delectably evil force. Michael Douglas is OK. He's dumb enough to cheat but heroic enough to “save his marriage.” But is anyone capable of matching Clint Eastwood's unstoppable coolness. Eastwood doesn't even need to speak (not that he does). Anne Archer as Douglas' wife is too nice. She's begging him to cheat on her, like Jocelyn Brando was begging to be blown up in The Big Heat.
Fatal Attraction is a humdrum sexploitation thriller. It's fun most of the time. But I was disappointed by the lack of creativity and newness. So, if you are considering watching Fatal Attraction, remember there's this movie, it's called Play Misty for Me, and it's much better.

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