Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer
Director: Adrian Lyne
Running Time: 119 mins
Fatal Attraction is an American film about a married man who finds himself being stalked by a woman obsessed with him after they shared in a weekend affair in New York City.
Though not quite the dizzyingly distressing thriller that it wants to be, Fatal Attraction features some deeply disturbing moments alongside gripping moral depth, made all the more engrossing by striking performances from Michael Douglas and particularly Glenn Close. In short, Fatal Attraction isn’t quite as terrifying as it sets out to be, but it’s not a comfortable watch by any means.
There’s a lot that makes this film so memorably disturbing, but the real stand-out here has to be Glenn Close, who gives an exhilarating performance as the woman who becomes dangerously obsessed with a man she spent a night with.
In Fatal Attraction, Close is so much more than a merely obsessive or deranged stalker, but a real force to be reckoned with that makes her unpredictability and determination really quite frightening. If she were just obsessed over Michael Douglas, then this film would never have been anywhere near as resonant as it is, but thanks to Close’s powerful performance, Fatal Attraction really is an exhilarating watch.
As such a powerful force, the lengths to which this woman goes are absolutely terrifying, with Michael Douglas left with almost nowhere to go as he finds himself stuck between hiding the affair from his wife and getting rid of Close in any way possible.
What’s most interesting about Douglas’ role in this film is that he’s a likable and charismatic lead, but he’s actually in a far lower moral position than the film makes out at first. Whether intentional or not, Fatal Attraction almost works as a cautionary, be-careful-what-you-wish-for story about adultery, serving to criticise Douglas’ character’s actions more than paint Close’s character as a total villain.
On the surface, it’s a fairly simple story about an obsessive woman who seems totally deranged, but there is a lot more meat on the bones of Fatal Attraction than first meets the eye, and that’s what really makes it such a dramatically engrossing watch particularly as it builds towards an exhilarating finale.
However, one area in which the film falls down is in delivering a real rollercoaster ride. Although things build nicely in the final act, the majority of the film’s first two acts don’t really capture an intense tension to keep you on the edge of your seat.
With the exception of a nice bubbling suspense before Douglas and Close first meet, a good portion of the film’s middle act before things really kick off isn’t all that exhilarating, and misses out on some of the most thematically gripping and disturbing ideas at play.
As a result, what could have been a wall-to-wall thrill-ride turns out to be a bit too much of a slow-burner, and although things really do impress come the end, Fatal Attraction doesn’t always use its potential for truly distressing drama to the full.
Having said that, the film is still a thrilling watch, and although it’s not constant edge-of-your-seat tension, Fatal Attraction impresses with great performances, disturbing drama and complex moral themes that make it out to be more than you might first think. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5 overall.