“I guess you thought you’d get away with it. Well, you can’t.”
When a movie is called genre defining, it usually means it was the first one of that genre, or the first one in a while, to make a shit tonne of money. In the 90s, when Sharon Stone was getting bigger and bigger pay cheques for dodgier and dodgier erotic thrillers, I hope she was giving a portion of those cheques to Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Adrian Lyne and James Dearden. Because there would be no Basic Instinct or Slither if that quartet hadn’t acted in, directed, or written the highest grossing movie of 1987, and defined the erotic thriller genre, with Fatal Attraction.
Happy family man and successful high falutin’ lawyer Dan Gallagher (Douglas) is at a swanky work party when he meets, and innocently flirts with Alex Forrest (Close). The next day, he discovers she’s actually a colleague, helping on his current biggest case. They joke about their flirtation of the previous night and move on. Only, they don’t. A rainstorm and lack of cabs sees them taking refuge over a few drinks in a bar. With his family away, inspecting a country dream country house for them to move to, Dan succumbs to temptation and spends the night with Alex.
The next morning, a passive aggressive phone call from Alex convinces Dan they should spend the few days together while his wife and daughter are away. This guilt trip should be the only warning sign Dan needs to stay away, but he doesn’t and the weekend ends with her slitting her wrists when he says he’s going home. He nurses her overnight, then returns to his family. The only problem is, Alex won’t take no for an answer, and she’s not going anywhere.
I’d never seen Fatal Attraction before now, but the thing about a genre definer is, unless you see it the day it hits cinemas, most of the plot points and most notorious scenes are spoiled long before you ever get to see them yourself. The general plot, a couple of the more over the top moments, even specific lines of dialogue, there wasn’t really a single surprise. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t find it entertaining. It also doesn’t mean I think Fatal Attraction is a good movie by any stretch of the imagination.
Fatal Attraction is pure trash, but it‘s well executed trash. There’s absolutely nothing going on under the surface and no commentary being made. I can’t imagine a single reason why anyone would ever watch it more than once. Because the thrills are way too cheap to stand up to repeated viewings. But that first time, it’s a pretty cool, totally dumb, totally enjoyable ride. You might lose a few IQ points by partaking in Fatal Attraction, so maybe don’t watch it if you plan on operating heavy machinery soon after.