Thursday, 24 February 2011

80s Movies: Fatal Attraction (1987)

Fatal Attraction wins its place in our 80s movies run-down not by being good (although it's not all that bad...) but for one very good reason. We might not all go around saying "Great Scott!" when we're surprised, or dropping "I ain't lost ma heed!" and "Them's ma rightful propertah!" into conversation, but everybody - everybody - knows what a bunny boiler is.

Admittedly, not everyone may have seen the movie or really know the derivation of the phrase, but that doesn't detract from the fact that this film was a history-maker. It looks a little dated now, but the performances are as strong as they ever were, and it has that kind of harrowing nature that seems to be sorely lacking from most modern-day movies.

It's interesting to think that this gritty psychodrama was released in the same year as Mannequin (see yesterday's review) - all too often the 80s gets 'flattened' into one genre or other, but people seem to neglect the fact that this was an entire decade of movie-making, music, fashion and culture, with all the complexity you might expect to come from that.

The Plot

It's probably fair to say that Michael Douglas and Glenn Close are hugely responsible for the success of Fatal Attraction. Douglas, as Dan Gallagher, embarks on a short-lived affair with Alex Forrest (Close), which she's unwilling to let go.

The storyline that follows is fairly one-dimensional - it's purely about Gallagher and his wife Beth (Anne Archer) trying to get Forrest back out of their lives - but that one-dimensional nature works well for a movie that is all about how one person can cause so much trouble for others.

Forrest's defining moment comes when she kills the Gallaghers' family pet, a rabbit, and leaves it in a simmering pan on their stove - the source of the phrase 'bunny boiler' for anyone who's... well, a bit too clingy.

Oh, the insanity...

It's easy to think that Fatal Attraction is over the top - that nobody in real life would ever be so crazy. But Close did her research before beginning filming, and her portrayal of the script as written is filtered through what she learned from real-life cases.

The next time somebody pays a healthy interest in you and you call it 'stalking', it's probably worth putting things in context - this movie is stalking at its most terrifying and intrusive. It's a modern classic, and its lesson becomes no less relevant as the years go by.

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

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