Starring: Michael Caine, Shelley WInters, Millicent Martin
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Running Time: 114 mins
Alfie is a British film about a London man who spends his days with women from all over the city, living the high life as a ladies’ man, but he soon begins to realise that his lifestyle has some serious consequences.
I was a little disappointed with this film. Despite a charismatic central performance from Michael Caine, and a few moments that offer both good laughs and some dramatic poignancy, Alfie was a very underwhelming watch for me, moving along at a very wobbly pace, not featuring enough truly interesting character development, and on the whole just not stringing together a solid comedy-drama.
But we’ll start on the positive side, and the best thing that I can say about this film is that Michael Caine is pretty good in the lead role. Particularly when playing up Alfie’s playboy persona, Caine’s charismatic and no-nonsense acting is great fun to watch, and with his regular fourth wall breaking throughout the film, it’s pretty easy to get to know what Alfie is all about.
What’s more is that the film does often pull off some good laughs. Again, the first act is undoubtedly the strongest in this regard, and while presenting the central character as almost comically serial womaniser, there’s a lot to enjoy about Alfie, whilst Caine’s performance adds another level of class and wit to the character.
On the flipside, the film also manages to provide some good drama from time to time. The weaker screenplay and directing don’t help the case, but the film’s final act does go a good way to making you contemplate some very harsh real-world truths about people like Alfie, and proves the most intriguing and almost emotionally captivating moment of the entire film.
That said, the majority of this film doesn’t quite work so well. Whilst it has some great comedic and dramatic moments at either end, the bulk of this film is a fairly repetitive and uninteresting affair, failing to give a smooth and well-developed character arc for Alfie, instead opting to keep him in the same state for the majority of the movie, only for everything to come along at once and change him then. The situation at hand would be shocking enough to do that, but in this film, after being so confident about everything he does, the sudden change of atmosphere doesn’t come off at all well.
But as well as not effectively pacing his character development, the other big problem is that Alfie just isn’t a particularly interesting person. If it weren’t for Michael Caine, the film would have been a far duller affair, as we’re presented with a man who just constantly goes about his immoral business without batting an eyelid. If the film were presenting the story in a darker light early on, that could have worked, but as far as this comedy-drama goes, it’s just not that fascinating to spend a good two hours with this man, and that’s why I’m giving Alfie a 7.0.