Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987, USA)

One of the quintessential American films of the 1980s, Fatal Attraction is director Adrian Lyne's best-known film. Challenging and provocative, the film ushered in the new era of the erotic thriller, which would come to be a dominant strain of American cinema until the late 90s. Elevating many of the tropes of the slasher/horror film into a sophisticated setting, these films found immense success at the box office by eschewing the tainted genre label of "horror." And yet there are scenes in Fatal Attraction that wouldn't be out of place in a Halloween film. 

The plot is on the surface very simple, and this is one of the film's key strengths. Michael Douglas plays an everyman who has - what he thinks - a discreet two-night affair with Glenn Close's character. The film turns into a one-night stand from hell as he learns that Alex (Glenn Close) has become obsessed with him, and is also pregnant. It is not coincidental that Alex's career woman is pitted against Dan Gallagher's (Douglas) family unit. Yet Douglas's character is not altogether that sympathetic, and the director and writer toyed with alternate endings that made him less of a victim.

The performances are top-notch, particularly by Close, who manages to tread just on the edge of camp without entering it fully. Lyne's direction is excellent - stylistic without being too visible (though those Dutch angles are a bit much). Despite its two-hour runtime, the film moves at a brisk pace - something that many directors these days could learn something from. Despite its being an erotic thriller, the film is rather tame compared to what we are used to seeing these days. And yes, the "bunny boiling" scene is as iconic as its name suggests - and a hard scene to forget.



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