Dan Gallagher (Douglas) is a happily-married New York lawyer. While working a case involving a publishing house whose novel may land them in a lawsuit, Dan meets editor Alex Forrest (Close). With his wife out of town, Dan and Alex have a little dinner date that eventually leads to the knocking of boots. Despite Dan's insistence that the whole thing was a one-night stand and his desire to return to his previously established life, Alex won't take no for an answer. Instead, Alex goes stalker on Dan and his family, rabbits included.
Adapted by James Dearden and Nicholas Meyer from an earlier short by Dearden, FATAL ATTRACTION certainly got people's attention when it first came out over 20 years ago (damn, I'm old). While the message of infidelity gone very wrong doesn't have as much the same impact today as it did then (although more recent fare like SWIMFAN and OBSESSED clearly drew inspiration from the film), it's still a slick thriller to show your player pals what can happen if they f*ck around with the wrong people.
Part of the impact of the film largely rests on the tension, which is effectively built up by director Adrian Lyne perfectly (and showing a preview of just what he could do in his next hit, JACOB'S LADDER). Rather than glamourize the entire affair, Lyne portrays the entire thing nonchalantly, making the whole thing appear to be a one-night stand and nothing but. Close and Douglas in turn reciprocate that idea of casualness, making the whole thing into a throwaway fling. Well, that's before Close turns on the switch.
Part of the tension's impact in the film rests on the acting by everyone, particularly Glenn Close. Besides being damn sexy, Close injected tension into every aspect of the film once that screw came loose. Even before that, the "clingly" personality displayed early on in the affair could be seen as hiding something darker. That, and the phone calls, the memorable line of refusing to be ignored, the "bunny boiler." It really came as no surprise that Close was nominated for Best Actress that year by the Academy. Close wasn't the only one who was a standout, as Anne Archer's role as the betrayed yet forgiving wife "standing by her man" was also recognized for Best Supporting Actress.
Despite being the 2nd highest-grossing film that year and being nominated for 6 Academy Awards, the film isn't perfect, but it's close (excuse the pun). Disregarding Michael Douglas' performance for a minute, the explanation for why his character partakes in the affair is never made clear. Sure, you could say "Seemed like a good idea at the time," but really, there's no reason for the infidelity to occur. Also (now this is getting into my psych minor, so bear with me), Alex is most often cited as an example of borderline personality disorder. While Hollywood is consistent with the symptoms of the illness in the film (impulsivity, self-injury, etc.), borderline personalities don't go the murdering psycho route. I know, I'll shut up.
Being that FATAL ATTRACTION practically inspired all of these "scorned lover" films after it hit the screen (yes, I know PLAY MISTY FOR ME hit before this one), you can't fault Hollywood for making things interesting. Superb tension made this film great, and that tension still resonates when you pop the film in now. Just don't watch it with your girlfriends if things aren't going so great, or if you are "playing the field."
Video: Coming at you in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, FATAL ATTRACTION shows its age, but it still looks good. Aside from a touch of softness in the picture here and there (Lyne's decision), much of the grain has been digitally removed, which can be annoying if you're aware of it. Still, the picture is clear with good detail throughout.
Audio: Despite the English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, the whole film was focused on the center channel. On top of that, dialogue is difficult to make out at times due to it being tuned lower than what you'd want. Surrounds are there, but are virtually nonexistent most of the time. In other words, the whole thing feels flat. Other languages include a French Dolby 2.0 Surround and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track, with English, Spanish, Portuguese and French subtitles.
Porting over all the extras from the Collector's Edition DVD, we start things off with an audio commentary by director Adrian Lyne. An informative track but a dry one at the same time, Lyne speaks on the casting, themes, characters and so on. He does allow a few points of dead air at times, making it seem he's as flat as the soundtrack.
Next is the half-hour featurette, Forever Fatal. Presented in standard definition, the doc looks at the genesis of the film and follows through onto the production's history. We get interviews from all the principles, as well as trivia bits.
Following that is Social Attraction, which is also presented in standard definition, and looks at the film's impact on popular culture (as well as in the context of the feminist movement), along with the psychology of the characters and the film's attraction to audiences at the time.
Visual Attraction turns its attention onto the look of the film, including the shooting style, makeup, set design and costuming. Once again, it's in standard definition.
Rounding things up are seven minutes of rehearsal footage with Close strutting her stuff, as well as the film's alternate ending with introduction by director Adrian Lyne. This ending sticks closer to the diagnosis of someone with borderline personality disorder (read: self-destruction and eventual suicide), but obviously didn't gel with test audiences, who wanted to have more punch in their ending.
The film's theatrical trailer is also included, and presented in high definition.
A great thriller from the late 80's that set the stage for other lovers looking to keep their man at any cost, FATAL ATTRACTION is a keeper. While the lackluster commentary and audio dampens things a bit, this is still an otherwise great disc.