|Fatal Attraction (1987)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 15 June 2009|
"Fatal Attraction" came five years before Douglas' role in "Basic Instinct" and seven years before his role in "Disclosure." Michael Douglas has had a lot of practice with the suspenseful thriller genre. All three of these films, especially the first and the third, have Douglas portraying a character that is caught in an intense relationship with a psychotic woman.
In "Fatal Attraction," Douglas is a lawyer that leads an ordinary family life. He has a wife and a daughter, in which I spent most the film wondering why if she is supposed to be their daughter did the filmmakers choose a male to portray the character. When I finally looked up the credits the actress for his daughter is indeed a woman. The point is, that the film was so lackluster that I'm sitting there trying to figure out if the child is male or female. Not a good sign.
At a business party, Dan Gallagher (Douglas) meets Alex Forrest (Glenn Close). When Dan's wife and daughter leave on a visitation trip, Dan finds himself getting into questionable scenarios with Alex. It doesn't take more than a lunch for the two of them to beginning their affair. Right after the first time they have sex, Alex begins to become obsessive. At first, it is just minor stuff, like always wanting to be with Dan and forcing herself into his life's events. After a while though, Dan's spurning of her advances leads to some seriously disturbing behavior. After Dan calls the whole thing off, she slits her wrists, at which time Dan takes care of her. Not sure why he didn't take her to a hospital, but heck, just rinse off the sliced wrists and wrap bandages around them and they'll be fine right?
When Dan's family returns home, life becomes all that much more complicated. It is evident that Dan is not going to tell his wife about his affair. Alex begins to stalk Dan, making repeated telephone calls, requiring Dan to change his phone number and always showing up at his office. No matter what Dan does, he cannot get Alex to stop pestering him. She throws acid on his car, she kills his daughter's rabbit and leaves it stewing in a pot on their stove, all types of weird and disturbing stuff. Naturally, the police say they can't do anything about it. Then, Alex shows up and tells Dan that she is pregnant. This obviously worsens the situation. Dan stills doesn't tell his wife and still declines to take responsibility. I will admit, Alex is right on that part, Dan does need to take responsibility, but the way she goes around it is just absurd.
Alex eventually kidnaps their daughter, resulting in Dan's wife getting into a car accident during her frantic search for their daughter. Of course, I'm not sure how the school was able to release someone's daughter to a complete stranger. Talk about a lawsuit. The film comes down to a bathroom battle sequence that gets the job done, but isn't that awe-inspiring.
"Fatal Attraction" tries to be suspenseful. However, there are just too many events that take you out of the film. Beyond those faults, the film has a now overdone Hollywood story. In its heyday, "Fatal Attraction" was slightly more original. Nowadays, the film just doesn't measure up to more modern erotic thrillers.
"Fatal Attraction" comes to Blu-ray with a 1.78:1 aspect ration and MPEG-4 AVC encode. Despite being six years older, the film has a much better transfer than that of "Indecent Proposal." First, it is noticeable how smooth the image is. Film grain is barely noticeable in the transfer, as opposed to its successor. This is indicative of some digital noise reduction. While details remain relatively clear, the film does suffer from sequences with overall softness. The black levels are good, but shadow delineation suffers. Low-light indoor sequences suffer from big solid black spots all over the screen. The color palette is typical of the late 1980s. It is solid, and definitely not overly vibrant, especially due to the style of film. The fleshtones appear accurate. The original source print does suffer from some dust, dirt and blemishes, but it is not overly noticeable. There isn't much depth in the image. Much of the time the foreground and background seem to blend together. This is a major upgrade over the previous standard DVD.
The audio is a bit less stellar. This is due to the original sound design and not the transfer in particular. The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, despite the original lack of a surround sound mix. The audio for this film is pretty much limited to the center channel. It sounds like a stereo file being decoded via a surround decoder, without the phasing. The dialogue has to compete with sound effects and music. However, in dialogue only sequences, the dialogue is clear and clean. There is nothing in the surround channels so you can turn those off. The LFE channel is also absent so that can be turned off. You could even turn off your left and right speakers and get pretty much the same audio experience. There is a bit of dynamics between the dialogue and more active sequences. The frequency response of the track is not expansive, lacking the crystal clean high frequencies. The audio even has some moments of distortion in the dialogue. The audio for "Fatal Attraction" isn't exactly a hopeless mess, but it does not a complete overhaul.
"Fatal Attraction" comes with more special features that Lyne's other Blu-ray release. First there is an audio commentary by director Adrian Lyne. This is a very informative audio commentary despite lulls in the track. "Forever Fatal: Remembering 'Fatal Attraction'" is a section with cast and crew interviews. "Social Attraction: The Cultural Phenomenon of 'Fatal Attraction'" examines the impact of the film on today's culture. "Visual Attraction" is a behind-the-scenes production featurette. The disc also contains some rehearsal footage, an alternate ending with introduction by Adrian Lyne, and the original theatrical trailer.
"Fatal Attraction" has definitely had an impact on filmmaking, but overall it no longer stands out in cinema history. I am not sure how this film was nominated for Best Director, least of all Best Picture. The video quality is superlative to most film transfers of its age while the audio quality is simply lacking. The disc is worth taking a look at.