Fatal Attraction

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This article is about the 1987 film. For for the play based on the film, see Fatal Attraction (play). For other uses, see Fatal Attraction (disambiguation).
Fatal Attraction
Fatal attraction poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Adrian Lyne
Produced by Stanley R. Jaffe
Sherry Lansing
Written by James Dearden
Starring Michael Douglas
Glenn Close
Anne Archer
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Howard Atherton
Edited by Peter E. Berger
Michael Kahn
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • September 18, 1987 (1987-09-18)
Running time 119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14 million
Box office $320,145,693[1]

Fatal Attraction is a 1987 American psychological thriller film directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer. The film centers around a married man who has a weekend affair with a woman who refuses to allow it to end, resulting in emotional blackmail, stalking, and an ensuing obsession on her part. The film was adapted by James Dearden and Nicholas Meyer from an earlier 1980 short film by Dearden for British television, Diversion.

Fatal Attraction was a hit, becoming the second highest-grossing film of 1987 in the United States and the highest-grossing film of the year worldwide. Critics were enthusiastic about the film, and it received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture (which it lost to The Last Emperor), Best Actress for Close, and Best Supporting Actress for Archer. Both lost to Cher and Olympia Dukakis, respectively, for Moonstruck.

Plot[edit]

Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a successful, happily married New York attorney living in Manhattan when he meets Alexandra "Alex" Forrest (Glenn Close), an editor for a publishing company, through business. While his wife, Beth (Anne Archer), and daughter, Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzen), are out of town for the weekend, he has a passionate affair with Alex. Though he thought it was understood to be a simple fling, she begins clinging to him.

Dan explains that he must go home and Alex cuts her wrists in a suicide attempt. He helps her to bandage them and later leaves. He thinks the affair is forgotten, but she shows up at various places to see him. She waits at his office one day to apologize and invites him to the opera, but he turns her down. She then continues to telephone until he tells his secretary that he will no longer take her calls. She then phones his home at all hours, and then confronts him saying that she is pregnant and plans to keep the baby. Although he wants nothing to do with her, she argues that he must take responsibility. She shows up at his apartment (which is for sale) and meets Beth, feigning interest as a buyer. Later that night, he goes to her apartment to confront her about her actions which results in a violent scuffle. In response, she replies that she will not be ignored.

Dan moves his family to Bedford, but this does not deter Alex. She has a tape recording delivered to him filled with verbal abuse. She stalks him in a parking garage, pours acid on his vehicle, and follows him home one night to spy on him, Beth, and Ellen from the bushes in their yard; the sight of their family life literally makes her sick to her stomach. Her obsession escalates further. Dan approaches the police to apply for a restraining order against her (claiming that it is "for a client"), to which the lieutenant claims that he cannot violate her rights without probable cause and that the adulterer has to own up to his adultery.

At one point, while the Gallaghers are not home, Alex kills Ellen's pet rabbit, and puts it on their stove to boil. After this, Dan tells Beth of the affair and Alex's pregnancy. Enraged, she asks him to leave. Before he goes, Dan calls Alex to tell her that Beth knows about the affair. Beth gets on the phone and warns Alex that if she persists, she (Beth) will kill her. Without Dan and Beth's knowledge, Alex picks up Ellen at school and takes her to an amusement park, buying her ice cream as well as taking her on a roller coaster. Beth panics when she realizes that she does not know where Ellen is. She drives around searching and rear-ends a car stopped at an intersection. She is injured and hospitalized. Alex later takes Ellen home, asking her for a kiss on the cheek. Following Beth's release from the hospital, she forgives Dan and they return home.

Dan barges into Alex's apartment and attacks her, choking her and coming close to strangling her. He stops himself, but as he does, she lunges at him with a kitchen knife. He overpowers her, but puts the knife down and leaves, with Alex leaning against the kitchen counter, smiling. He approaches the police about having her arrested, and they start searching for Alex to bring her in for taking Ellen.

Beth prepares a bath for herself and Alex suddenly appears, again with the kitchen knife. She starts to explain her resentment of Beth, nervously fidgeting (which causes her to cut her own leg) and then attacks her. Dan hears the screaming, runs in, wrestles Alex into the bathtub, and seemingly drowns her. She suddenly emerges from the water, swinging the knife. Beth, who went searching for Dan's gun, shoots her in the chest, killing her. The final scene shows police cars outside the Gallaghers' house. As Dan finishes talking with the cops, he walks inside, where Beth is waiting for him. They embrace and proceed upstairs as the camera focuses on a picture of them and Ellen.

Alternate ending[edit]

Alex Forrest was originally scripted to die by suicide at the film's end by slashing her throat. She planned to make it appear that Dan had murdered her. After seeing her husband being taken away by police, Beth finds a revealing cassette tape that Alex sent Dan in which she threatened to commit suicide. Upon realizing Alex's intentions, Beth takes the tape to the police, which acquits Dan of the murder. The last scene shows, in flashback, Alex committing suicide by slashing her throat while listening to Madame Butterfly. However, Test audiences did not respond well to this ending.[citation needed]

This resulted in a three-week reshoot for the action-filled sequence in the bathroom and Alex's death by gunshot. Her shooting by Beth juxtaposes the two characters, with Alex becoming the victim and Beth taking violent action to protect her family.[2]

In the 2002 Special Edition DVD, Close comments that she had doubts re-shooting the film's ending, because she believed the character would "self-destruct and commit suicide".[2] However, Close gave in on her concerns, and filmed the new sequence after having fought against the change for two weeks.[2] The film was initially released in Japan with the original ending. The original ending also appeared on a special edition VHS and LaserDisc release by Paramount in 1992, and was included on the film's DVD release a decade later.[3]

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

After its release, Fatal Attraction engendered much discussion of the potential consequences of infidelity. Feminists, meanwhile, did not appreciate Alex's depiction as a strong career woman who is at the same time profoundly psychopathic.[2] Feminist Susan Faludi discussed the film in Backlash, arguing that major changes had been made to the original plot in order to make Alex wholly negative, while Dan's carelessness and the lack of compassion and responsibility raised no discussion, except for a small number of fundamentalist men's groups who said that Dan was eventually forced to own up to his irresponsibility in that "everyone pays the piper".[4]

The film has also had an effect on men. Glenn Close was quoted in 2008 as saying, "Men still come up to me and say, 'You scared the shit out of me.' Sometimes they say, 'You saved my marriage.'"[5]

The film spent eight weeks at #1 in the U.S. and eventually grossed $156.6 million domestically, making the film the second highest-grossing film of 1987 in the U.S. behind Three Men and a Baby. It also grossed $163.5 million overseas for a total gross of $320.1 million, making it the biggest film of 1987 worldwide.[6] This in turn led to several similarly themed psychological thrillers being made throughout the late 80s and 90s.

Overall, the film received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 78% based on reviews from 46 critics, with the site's consensus "A potboiler in the finest sense, Fatal Attraction is a sultry, juicy thriller that's hard to look away from once it gets going."[7] On Metacritic, the film has a rating of 67/100 based on reviews from 16 critics.[8]

Much of the film's plot was spoofed in the 1993 comedy Fatal Instinct.[citation needed]

Awards[edit]

The film received six nominations for the 60th Academy Awards ceremony:

American Film Institute recognition

Home video[edit]

A Special Collector's Edition of the film was released on DVD in 2005.[14] Paramount released Fatal Attraction on Blu-ray Disc on June 9, 2009.[15] The Blu-ray release contained several bonus features from the 2005 DVD, including commentary by director Adrian Lyne, cast and crew interviews, a look at the film's cultural phenomenon, a behind-the-scenes look, rehearsal footage, the alternate ending, and the original theatrical trailer.

Play[edit]

A play based on the movie is due to open in London's West End at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in March 2014.[16] It is being adapted by the movie's original screen play writer James Dearden.[17]

Psychiatric diagnosis[edit]

The character of Alex Forrest has been discussed by psychiatrists and film experts, and has been used as a film illustration for the condition borderline personality disorder.[18] The character displays the behaviors of impulsivity, emotional lability, frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, frequent severe anger, self-harming, changing from idealization to devaluation, consistent with the diagnosis, although generally aggression to the self rather than others is a more common feature in borderline personality disorder.[19]

As referenced in Orit Kamirs' Every Breath You Take: Stalking Narratives and the Law, "Glenn Close's character Alex is quite deliberately made to be an erotomaniac. Gelder reports that Glenn Close 'consulted three separate shrinks for an inner profile of her character, who is meant to be suffering from a form of obsessive condition known as de Clérambault's syndrome' (Gelder 1990, 93—94)".[20]

The popular term 'bunny boiler', used often to describe an obsessive, spurned woman derives from the scene where Alex boils the pet rabbit.[21][22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fatal Attraction". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d Remembering Fatal Attraction 2002 DVD Special Features
  3. ^ "Fatal Attraction (Special Collector's Edition) (1987)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  4. ^ See "Fatal and Foetal Visions: The Backlash in the Movies", Chapter 5 of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women, published by Chatto & Windus, 1992
  5. ^ "Close says boiling that bunny saved marriages". The Times. 2008-01-06. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 
  6. ^ "Fatal Attraction". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  7. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1007141-fatal_attraction/
  8. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/fatal-attraction
  9. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
  10. ^ "America's Most Heart-Pounding Movies". AFI. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  11. ^ AFI'S 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees
  12. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains". AFI. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  13. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
  14. ^ "Fatal Attraction (Special Collector's Edition) [DVD] (2005)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "Fatal Attraction [Blu-ray]". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "Fatal Attraction and Strangers On A Train head to West End stage". bbc.co.uk/news. BBC News. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  17. ^ "'Fatal Attraction' to become a stage play, will debut in London". latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  18. ^ Robinson, David J. (1999). The Field Guide to Personality Disorders. Rapid Psychler Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-9680324-6-X. 
  19. ^ Wedding D, Boyd MA, Niemiec RM (2005). Movies and Mental Illness: Using Films to Understand Psychopathology. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe. p. 59. ISBN 0-88937-292-6. 
  20. ^ Kamir, Orit (2001). Every Breath You Take: Stalking Narratives and the Law. University of Michigan Press. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-472-11089-6. 
  21. ^ Singh, Anita. "Fatal Attraction: My sympathy for the bunny-boiler". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  22. ^ "The meaning and origin of the expression: Bunny boiler". phrases.org.uk. 

External links[edit]