- Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher
- Glenn Close as Alex Forrest
- Anne Archer as Beth Gallagher
A torrid affair has terrifying repercussions for a lawyer when the other woman won’t let go in Fatal Attraction, a suitably infamous thriller that deeply unsettles and disturbs. Infidelity and obsession combine in this well-acted and frightening tale of a woman’s scorn.
Dan Gallagher is a young lawyer who has a beautiful wife Beth and a young daughter Ellen. He first meets the intriguing Alex Forrest at a book event, and though attracted to one another, he is unavailable. But when Beth goes away for the weekend, temptation gets the better of Dan and he engages in a steamy fling with Alex. Dan then wants to go back to his family and it is here when he first gets the idea that Alex is not going to let him go when she slits her wrists. After helping her clean her wounds, he returns to his family, yet Dan soon finds his life turned upside down by Alex. She incessantly calls him at work, she throws acid on his car, sends him a chilling tape detailing her love for him and famously kills the family’s pet rabbit( spawning the term bunny boiler in the process). It becomes very clear to Dan that Alex has now become obsessed with him and won’t take no for an answer. Terrified, he tries to smooth things over but Alex’s campaign of terror is only just beginning and she won’t stop until every obstacle is out of the way. What began as a fling morphs into a nightmare for Dan as the spurned and unstable Alex refuses to let go of that weekend and will go to the most extreme lengths to destroy everything in Dan’s life, including his family.
Director Adrian Lyne contributes a steamy and suspenseful atmosphere through his crisp direction that highlights the heat of the affair and later the increasingly disturbed and insidious ways that Alex takes revenge on Dan. It’s all about the build up in Fatal Attraction, as we witness Dan’s family life, the affair and slowly but surely the obsessions of Alex. This is chilling to watch as it started out so simple and then became very complicated as the terrified Dan comes to see that his mistake is coming back to bite him. Fatal Attraction contains many moments of suspense and terror, most notably Alex sitting alone flicking the light switch on and off as her eyes become catatonic and when she follows Dan who is listening to her bone-chilling message about how she isn’t going to let him get away with leaving her. The unnerving atmosphere is held up very well and only loses it in the finale which goes overboard but still emerges as tense and creepy. An electronic score excellently backs up the realization of Dan that Alex is very dangerous indeed and that he is not going to escape her campaign of terror on his life.
Michael Douglas excellently portrays Dan as a man who has had his fun and now wants to leave, but witnessing that this isn’t going to happen. By turns sympathetic and unsympathetic, Douglas gives his all as Dan becomes more terrified at the prospect of what his fling will cause. Glenn Close is the standout performer here, rightfully seen as iconic in this role. Exhibiting rage, obsession and terrifying intensity, Close knocks it out of the park and really becomes a frightening embodiment of a woman scorned acting out her anger. What really makes it such a great performance is the subtlety that it builds with. Alex in the beginning seems like a rational and flirty person with nothing sinister about her. But after Dan’s dismissal of her, the fury begins to emerge and Close reaches chilling heights displaying the anguish and warped mind of this woman. Anne Archer brings her great credentials to the supporting role of Dan’s wronged wife Beth, who is left reeling by his affair but who is willing to protect her family nonetheless.
A lurid and unnerving thriller if ever there was one, Fatal Attractions still remains sinister viewing.