Tuesday, November 29, 2011
(September 1987, U.S.)
I'm going to start off this post by telling you all three brief stories and how they may (or may not) be directly linked to the adult themes of Adrian Lyne's 1987 hit, FATAL ATTRACTION. I will also add that all of this took place BEFORE I met the woman who would become my wife (got that, honey?).
In the Summer of 1990, I was in love with a girl who did not return the same feelings for me (I've described her before in my post for DEAD POETS SOCIETY). Somewhere during the course of those months, we had a discussion concerning the fact that we'd never slept together. We weren't dating (nor did it look like we would be), but we were, nonetheless, curious about being with each other. So we actually had a talk about being together one time and then resuming our relationship as just friends. In short, we were two (seemingly) mature adults laying out the rules of engagement and the acceptance of those rules. I accepted. The results of our first time together sexually are an entirely different story, but when it was over I suddenly found myself not liking the rules I'd agreed to so much. I didn't go boiling any rabbits, but I found myself wanting a lot more of what I'd agreed to have only once. By this account, it may be very easy for me to sympathize with Glenn Close's character Alex Forrest and the feelings she can't let go of, despite the "rules" she's agreed to.
For a couple of years during college following that summer, I had a girlfriend (I've described her before in my post for BASIC INSTINCT) who was very warm, very giving, very passionate and also known to succomb to very unwarranted fits of jealous rage. She never boiled any rabbits, but she did slash one of the tires on my car once for no apparant good reason. By this account, it may be very easy for me to CONDEMN Alex Forrest and how she takes her obssessions and insecurities too far.
Finally, during the Summer of 1997, I met and picked up a girl at a club in the Hamptons. We met the next day and proceeded to...okay, can't talk about THAT because my wife is likely reading this now. The point, though, is that somewhere along the course of things getting very physical, the brain in my head kicked in for a moment and told me that I did not want this girl to become any permanent part of my life. Thus, I actually took the time to tell her (BEFORE sleeping with her) that I was NOT looking for a girlfriend. She understood and accepted that fact. So again, we were two mature adults laying out the rules of engagement and acceptance of those rules (neither of us boiled any rabbits!). By this account, it may be very easy for me to sympathize with Michael Douglas' character, Dan Gallagher and the rules and conditions he lays out when getting temporarily involved with Alex.
By the way, in case you haven't actually seen FATAL ATTRACTION and haven't quite figured it out yet, a rabbit DOES get boiled in this film. In fact, ass a result, the term "bunny boiler" was passed into popular culture as a term for a very jealous and potentially violent mistress.
So as you watch the thrilling (and sometimes horrific) events of this film unfold and threaten to destroy the life of Dan Gallagher and his family, the one argument you may find yourself having (with yourself) is who is right and who is wrong. It can be argued that Dan is very WRONG in allowing himself to be tempted to stray from his seemingly perfect marriage to his wife Beth (played by Anne Archer and also the name of MY wife) simply because the opportunity is there for the taking. It can be argued that Dan is clearly in the RIGHT for not leading Alex on in the first place and making the rules of his life and availability very clear from the get-go. It can be argued that Alex is in the RIGHT for not allowing herself to be treated like some slut that Dan can just bang a few times and then discard when he's had his fun. It can ultimately be argued that Alex is very, very WRONG (and very, very disturbed) for taking things so far as to kidnap Dan's little girl and try to kill him and his wife. These were arguments I actually had in 1987 with the girl I'd seen the film with right after it was over. Right-wrong, right-wrong...these are the issues that FATAL ATTRACTION can raise, and DID raise back in the day. One thing's for sure and that is the premise of an obssessive woman trying to destroy a man's life and family scared the living shit of all men who saw the film back in it's day, and probably still does! By the final climax, though, despite whomever is right or wrong, there is one inescapable conclusion that is likely to run through your head and that is, "This crazy bitch has to die!"
All of this has been my collection of personal opions, of course. But for the record, after its original release, FATAL ATTRACTION engendered much discussion of the potential consequences of infidelity on the part of the male. Feminists, meanwhile, did not appreciate the depiction of Alex as a strong career woman who is at the same time profoundly psychotic (yeah, but she IS psychotic, right?). This film may have also saved many marriages because men were just too scared shitless to cheat on their wives. You see, guys, this is what HOOKERS are for!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Dan Gallagher: "Look, Alex, I like you, and if I wasn't with somebody else then maybe I'd be with you. But I am."
Alex Forrest: "Please don't justify yourself. It's pathetic. If you told me to fuck off, I'd have more respect for you."
Dan: "All right then, fuck off."