by Kaitlin Lyle
They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but what happens when there’s two women?
Director Adrian Lynne has been known particularly for his enraptured focus on infidelity and its consequences on our loved ones. For “Fatal Attraction”, he concocts a gripping mixture of one man’s adultery, an affair’s bold sexuality, and the psychological terror that is a scorned woman at her worst.
In this steamy 80’s thriller, successful lawyer Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) has everything going for him: an excellent career, a beautiful family and a new house in the country. In other words, he has no reason whatsoever to start an affair.
When devoted wife Beth (Anne Archer) leaves town with their daughter for the weekend, Dan’s attempt to concentrate on work leads to catching the eye of charismatic associate Alex Forrest (Glenn Close).
An attraction sparks between the two as they chat over dinner, and in spite of their awareness of Dan’s marriage, a weekend of daring trysts ensues.
Following the weekend, Dan returns home where he assumes that life will go back to normal, though Alex’s growing attachment has yet to fade. Over time her desperation begins to spiral out of control as she stalks Dan and his family in her mission to show that she’s “not going to be ignored”. Through Alex’s efforts to make Dan’s life a living hell, Dan learns that his passing indiscretion carries a toll that he will regret for the rest of his life.
All things considered, “Fatal Attraction” sets free a tumultuous adrenaline rush in presenting a story where extramarital affairs and revenge go hand in hand.
The film pays a fond tribute to the opera “Madame Butterfly” as a bond for the lovers, but then is gently chilled once the psychosis sets in. Above all, the film comes with superb character development that gives the audience realistic individuals as well as a struggle in deciding where they should place their sympathy.
The intensity of Michael Douglas’ acting surfaces as the leading man, a smoldering role that offers us schadenfreude to relish as well as hope for his survival. Though it is through Dan’s supreme selfishness that his family is put into danger, we still reserve fear for him as we watch him become the subject of startling vengeance.
Alex’s character is brought to heart-pounding dimensions by Glenn Close in one of her greatest, if not most daring, roles. From first glance to final call, the audience tracks each of her movements with the increasing horror that there’s something lethal lying beneath the surface. As a spurned lover, we can’t help but sympathize with her whenever she is ignored by Dan, who strives to cut strings between them without accepting responsibility for his actions. And then the “bunny boiler” arrives onscreen for the family to unveil, and our sympathy becomes strained in watching the shoe drop to deadlier depths.
Anne Archer’s character Beth undertakes a slow transformation from loving wife to something much stronger in protecting her family from her husband’s psychotic lover. It is almost as though the knowledge of his cheating has suctioned out the naïve housewife routine and replaced it with a sharper edge, especially when she gives Alex a warning of her own.
Despite its limited awards among prestigious nominations, “Fatal Attraction” continues its notorious success in scaring married men towards faithfulness; as a thriller, it has been referenced throughout pop culture over the years, even earning a place as #59 of “Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments”.
As a revenge fantasy flick for any woman who has been rejected and has sought blood, this makes for an exceptional Netflix viewing.