Fatal Attraction (1987)

Director: Adrian Lyne
Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer,Ellen Latzen, Stuart Pankin, Ellen Foley, Fred Gwynne, Meg Mundy, Lois Smith. USA. 1h 59m

“So Andrew’s new girlfriend is turning out to be a right bunny boiler”
“A what?”
“You know.. Fatal Attraction.. “

This was the conversation that made me realise how influential movies have been on the English language. The term Bunny Boiler, referring to a person, usually a woman who’s a bit psychotic and clingy, was born from this literal potboiler that, when it really gets going, is hard to look away from.

Adrian Lyne went straight from 9 1/2 weeks (1986) to Fatal Attraction and then straight into Jacob’s Ladder (1990). He’s often quoted to be intrigued to make moves that create a discussion, a movie that’s not forgotten by dinner time and still arguing about it the next day is a winner for him and it’s safe to stay that this run of movies all hold a powerful grip on their audiences many years later. His ability to pull the carpet on an unsuspecting audience and touch on surreal symbolism is quite masterful.

What seems to be a romantic drama soon changes into something which has probably put a lot of people off from any relationship ever since this hit the screen in late 80’s. Dan (Douglas) is an up and coming professional in a high ranking law firm, he’s attractive, wealthy and happily married. His magnetism helps him pick up a sultry guest at one of his firms parties, Alex (Close), their brief one night stand is taken out of contex and Alex really falls for Dan, but her instability and psychotic nature bubbles to the surface leaving Dan not only fearing that the news of the affair might get out but he or his family family might lose their lives while facing Alex’s intense emotions.

”Why don’t you have a date?”

– Alex

Alex forres suffers from an obsessive condition know as “De Clerambault’s Syndrome” and the film has been studied by many psychology students as the portrayal is apparently spot on. Wright or wrong, the performance by Close is certainly chilling and as she goes beyond what wis concerned sane to continue her affair with Dan she starts to tighten the screw on him mentally and threatens his family physically.

Always appearing angelic and pure in her iconic white dress, Alex, on the surface is totally sweet and genuinely fun, but it takes a minor mishap to send her totally off the rails and before you know it, she’s flicking the lights on and off, then stalking the family pets, attempting suicide and plaguing your unsuspecting family with threats. One aspect which really elevates Fatal Attraction is how Adrian Lyne deals with blame and responsibility. The final say in who’s right or wrong, or whose actions were justified are up to the audience, this almost forces you to think, “what would I do in that situation?” and this really isn’t somewhere you’d want to be mentally.

On the other side of drinks, dinner and a one night stand, lies a terrifying love story

Viewing fatal attraction back in the day was quite a pearl clutching moment, there hadn’t been too many movies to go so deep into this type of psychopathic one way romance, that hits almost without warning. Looking back on the terrible misadventure, it’s quite surprising how the portrayal of mental health has changed over the decades, this is something which would be very different in a remake.

TLDR

Rating: 6/10

Related:9 1/2 weeks (1986), Basic Insitinct (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), Disclosure (1994), A Perfect Murder (1998), Unfaithful (2002)
Lists: Psychotic women, 17 Movies from 1987 Still Worth Talking About Vol 1
Spotlight: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Fred Gwynne, Lois Smith

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