Chances are, if you were a movie going person in 1987 you either saw 3 Men and a Baby or Fatal Attraction, if not both. Fatal Attraction was the second highest grossing film at the box office that year and seems like a polar opposite to 3 Men. Like I’ve said before, the most popular films aren’t usually within the Best Picture category come Oscar season, but with its intense plot and brilliant acting, Fatal Attraction found itself competing for top honors.
Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a family man and a business man. One weekend, while his wife, Beth (Anne Archer), and daughter are out in the country visiting family, Dan has to stay in the city for work. He ends up having a one night stand with a colleague, Alex Forrest (Glenn Close). Before the affair was even initiated, Dan and Alex seemed to come to an understanding about what was about to happen, “Yes, I’m discreet. Me too.” But once it’s time for Dan to leave, Alex is anything but discreet and goes to desperate measures attempting to keep him. She begins to stalk Dan, seeing him at work unannounced, calling him at all hours at home. Soon Dan is afraid Alex will not only tell his family, but try to hurt them. He is planning on moving out to the suburbs where he hopes Alex will lose track of him, but Dan has seriously underestimated what Alex is capable of.
Glenn Close’s performance as the unstoppable Alex is terrifying, so much that her Alex was ranked as #7 on AFI’s top 100 villains list. What makes Alex so scary is that she seemed normal in the beginning, just a woman flirting a bit. Once she’s had a taste of Dan, she won’t let him go and she can go from completely placid to ripping his shirt, cutting her wrists crazy within seconds. And that’s just the start. She takes her stalking up a level every few scenes and justifies it in her mind. We’ve all heard that crazy people don’t know they’re crazy. Alex sees herself as a normal two, while we know she’s completely off the chart.
The lines Alex begins to cross are what can really put us on the edge. Showing up at the office, calling the house, those start to make us uncomfortable. But damaging his car and planting a tape at the nearest car rental for Dan to listen to as he drives while she follows him home is way past the creepy boundaries. She’s sickly obsessive, calculating his and her every move and slowly moving closer to the most drastic measures.
I’ve found that people enjoy a good thriller in two ways: to be on the edge of their seat and/or to have fun yelling at the characters. Fatal Attraction is perfect for both. For first time viewers, you never know what Alex could do next, she seems capable of anything and is always taking her game up a notch. She keeps you on the edge. Then there’s poor stupid Dan who shouldn’t have been messing around in the first place. You can yell at him plenty.
Fatal Attraction doesn’t need to be taken too seriously, but it’s a great ride. It seems like Lifetime has copied off the ‘cheatin’ man ain’t gonna get away with it’ plot in every way imaginable. I envision this film being perfect girls-night-in for a group of women angry at a cheatin’ man or wanting to make fun of the crazy chick at work. Paint some toenails, bring on the chocolate, turn off Lifetime and pop in some quality.
“Well, what am I supposed to do? You won’t answer my calls, you change your number. I mean, I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!”