Fatal Attraction (1987)

Directed by:
Adrian Lyne

Psychological thriller

Farlig begjær

119 minutes

Produced by:
Stanley R. Jaffe
Sherry Lansing
Written by (based on his short film):
James Dearden

Cast includes:

Dan Gallagher Michael Douglas
Alex Forrest Glenn Close ½
Beth Gallagher Anne Archer
Ellen Gallagher Ellen Hamilton Latzen
Jimmy Stuart Pankin
Hildy Ellen Foley -
Arthur Fred Gwynne -



Adrian Lyne explores the ultimate nightmare of every married man who has had an affair with an unknown woman in this now quintessential film in the psychological/erotic thriller sub-genre. Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a happily married lawyer in Manhattan who out of boredom and mutual attraction end up spending a weekend with the seductive Alex (Glenn Glose) while his wife (Anne Archer) and daughter are out of town for the weekend. When he later rejects Alex' continued advances and ultimately ignores her, she becomes vindictive. One of the reasons Fatal Attraction works as well as it does is that despite being a genre movie which ultimately ends up in the "crazed psychopath" bracket, the film is so well acted and played out that the impression it makes exceeds most comparative entries. Few directors have explored the complete array of the emotional aspects of adultery as well as Lyne did here (and in Unfaithful a number of years later), and he skilfully infuses his scenes with an ever-present ambiguity which gives the story a whiff of authenticity all the way through. Michael Douglas' character and performance is expertly planned and conceived; you get to experience his every desperate emotion along the way, from lust through regret, shame, fear, and anger. And the duality Glenn Close is able to give Alex makes it hard to dismiss her as a simple movie psycho. She has sympathetic traits which make her downward spiral equal parts tragic and disturbing. Close is somehow able to retain Alex' humanity in the midst of all the madness. And the quartet of Close, Douglas, Archer and Lyne are able to weave plenty of realism in with the film's obvious genre sensibilities on their way to the inevitable and semi-effective Hitchcockian showdown.

Re-reviewed: Copyright © 19.02.2024 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright © 30.04.1997 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang