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Lawyer Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) and his wife Beth (Anne Archer) live happily with their young daughter Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzen). One night, when Beth and Ellen are out of town visiting her parents, Dan meets book editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) and has a torrid one-night stand. For Dan, it is just that, but Alex becomes obsessed, refusing to let Dan out of her sight and reach. It is soon apparent that her obsession is devastatingly dangerous.

Review by Louise Keller:
Revisiting this terrifying psychological thriller on DVD is as involving and gripping as when I first saw it in the cinema in 1987. Adrian Lyne’s ability to create films about sexual relationships has become legendary, and in the wake of his latest film on infidelity, Unfaithful, it is interesting to watch his expertise in an earlier work. Of course Fatal Attraction caused a great stir when it was released in the 80s by those involved in the feminist movement, who believed that it advocated all successful, single businesswomen were psychotic. This is canvassed in one of the special features called Social Attraction, when psychologists discuss its impact.

Masterfully crafted by its early establishment of its characters, the happy family home life is clear from the very first scenes when we see Beth getting ready to go out for a cocktail party. Dan is relaxed lazing on the couch sans trousers catching up on a bit of work, while Ellen is watching a family tv show, the sleepy golden Labrador lying beside her. A snapshot of an idyllic, happy family. Lyne goes to plenty of trouble to make sure that Archer is not at any time seen as the frumpy housewife. Far from it, she is fetching in a sheer, tiny white t-shirt and teensy white knickers at home, and a strapless, black number for cocktails. Then, the cocktail party – ‘is my hair ok?’; ‘you look great’ husband reassures wife, kisses her. Yep, it’s a good marriage. 

After this convincing set up, the evolution of the casual meeting and incidental banter with Alex over drinks; the subsequent business meeting, the rain, an umbrella that doesn’t open, no taxi, drink in the bar – all while wife and child are out of town…. It’s easy to understand and believe how things evolve. The heat is constant and the kitchen sex scene is both raunchy and totally unforgettable. 

Tense and terrifying, Fatal Attraction takes us into shocking territory, and while the film’s climax may be to some, melodramatic, I can still hear the screams from the audience in the cinema. The performances are superb with Glenn Close outstanding as the woman scorned (‘Hell hath no fury like…’), Anne Archer wonderful as the perfect wife and Michael Douglas the ideal unfaithful husband. In fact, Close is so convincing, that it is easy to believe that many men shied away from casual sex for quite some time after this film was released.

Even the scene selection menu offers provocation with sections like Are You Discreet? The features give a fascinating insight into how the film came into being and how studios and 26 directors turned it down because they could not believe in the commerciality of a film in which a man cheats on his wife in the first 10 minutes. I especially enjoyed the rehearsal footage introduced by Lyne – one of which was shot on video in producer Stanley Joffe’s office when Glenn met Michael. The second in rehearsal with Anne Archer (and Dan stand in) in an emotional confrontational scene, the camera resting entirely on Archer. 

You may not know, but two endings were shot; the alternate one with its brief introduction by Lyne is guaranteed to make your hair stand on end. Its drama maximises the use of music and is unforgettable. This is one DVD crammed with special features, including an involving commentary by the director himself, recalling the film’s details ‘all those years ago’.
He may claim to have a poor memory, but I was fascinated by the myriad of details and trivia that he reveals. 

Published September 19, 2002

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(US - 1987)

CAST: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer

DIRECTOR: Adrian Lyne

RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Forever Fatal - remembering fatal attractions; Social Actions; Visual Actions; Rehearsal footage; Alternate ending, Audio Commentary with Adrian Lyne, Theatrical Trailer; Languages – English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and others. Subtitles – 11 languages


DVD RELEASE: September 6, 2002

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