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Fatal Attraction

Paramount // R // June 9, 2009
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted June 11, 2009 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:

A pretty huge theatrical hit when it was released originally back in 1987, Fatal Attraction remains a fun, if predictable, thriller that set the stage for films to come like Basic Instinct and others of its ilk. Directed by Adrian Lyne, you can't quite call it a classic, as it's way too easy to see where it's going early on, but it's a decent slice of Hollywood entertainment that features a couple of really good performances and a few scenes that have gone on to become part of American pop culture.

The film follows a man named Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) who lives a pretty happy life in New York City with his wife, Beth (Anne Archer) where he works as a lawyer. When he gets involved in law suit based around a publishing deal he meets a book editor named Alex Forest (Glenn Close) and the two decide to go out for dinner one night when Anne is out of town for the weekend. Of course, one thing leads to another and before you know it, they've had a one night stand that was supposed to be nothing more than just that - simple, and consensual, one night stand.

Alex isn't happy with the results, however. Michael leaves to head back to his 'normal' life despite her pleading and when she doesn't get what she wants, she decides to take it for herself. She starts stalking Michael, following him around town and meddling in his affairs and it soon becomes painfully obvious that she's got more than a few screws loose up stairs. Soon, Dan realizes that not only is his life in danger, but so too are those of his wife and daughter and, like it or not, he's going to have to do something about this mess he's gotten himself into.

You wouldn't necessarily think of Glenn Close as scary outside of the context of this movie, but it's her completely believable performance as the obsessed and unhinged Alex that anchors the film and elevates it about the script, which, let's face it, could have been a made for cable TV movie of the week. She nails the part, performing with equal merit both the scenes wherein her character is called upon to act like a nut job and, just as importantly, the scenes that are a bit more tender and soft. Michael Douglas plays her foil quite well, performing here with just the right amount of attitude and cockiness which soon gives way to hesitation and fear. Anne Archer's portrayal of Beth is also quite good, rounding out the cast with some apt and deserved sympathy.

A few stand out moments, which were shocking when the film was a new picture, still pack a bit of a punch even if parody and pop culture have tamed them a bit. Alex's increasingly problematic tactics do send a chill up your spine, particularly if you've ever found yourself in shoes similar to Dan's. You, at times, almost feel like he's getting what he deserves, and that's half the fun of the movie, the moral dilemma's that it proposes and challenges you to think about in and amidst the stalking, slashing and bumping and grinding.

Again, if you haven't seen the movie, you're not likely going to be pulled through the twists and turns, rather, you're probably going to figure out where it's all going pretty early on. That doesn't make it a less enjoyable picture, however, just a less suspenseful one. Close and Douglas with a lot of help from Archer make this an entertaining and well acted picture, one that holds up well and is still very much worth your time.

The Video:

Fatal Attraction arrives on Blu-ray in a 1.78.1 VC-1 encoded 1080p anamorphic widescreen transfer. Generally the image is pretty decent, making good use of the extra resolution and bit rate made available by the format by showing off considerably more detail and much stronger colors than we've seen on previous home video releases. Some scenes look to have been shot just slightly out of focus, but this seems to be an intentional choice rather than a flaw, adding to the sometimes steamy atmosphere that the movie employs. Black levels are strong and skin tones look lifelike and natural and there are no obvious edge enhancement problems nor are there any compression artifacts to note. Expect a fair bit of grain to be understandably present throughout, but print damage shows up only rarely. All in all, the image is pretty strong here.

The Audio:

Warner has supplied an English language Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Mix and French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mixes as well as optional subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese. The same issues that apply to the Indecent Proposal mix apply here as well, in that there's nothing wrong with the mix per se, it's just not very impressive. Again, this isn't a film with a lot of action, it's primarily dialogue based, so thankfully the actors are always easy enough to understand but those hoping for a more enveloping experience will be left wanting. The lower end is noticeably sparse, with strong bass making itself known only occasionally. Rears are used for the occasional effect and the score, with pretty much everything coming from the front of the mix. It's fine for what it is, however, as there aren't really any problems with it, rather, it's just unexciting and very, very plain.

The Extras:

The supplements start off with a commentary track from director Adrian Lyne, who probably should have had someone else along for the ride as he seems particularly unenthused here. His delivery is dry to say the least, but he does give a fairly well rounded talk about the film's history, discussing the casting, a few specific plot points, and about some of the events that took place during the production. There's a fair bit of dead air here and, as mentioned, it's dry, but the content itself is reasonably engaging even if the delivery is not.

Forever Fatal is a twenty-eight minute retrospective documentary that delivers a nice history lesson about the film by way of some cast and crew interviews that cover the script, the casting, the locations, and some of the film's more controversial moments. The round things up by discussing the film's remarkable box office success and this generally makes for a pretty interesting look back at the picture and the people who made it.

Social Attraction is a shorter ten minute featurette that covers the sexual politics of the film and the reactions that it received from various aspects of society, most notably the feminist movement of the day, while Visual Attraction is a twenty-minute featurette that takes us behind the scenes of the production and delivers interviews with the cinematographer, make up department heads, production designer and costume designer, all of whom speak at some length about their roles in creating the film's visual style.

Rounding out the extras are seven minutes worth of screen test/rehearsal footage for Glenn Close and Anne Archer, an alternate ending with an introduction from Adrian Lyne, and the film's original theatrical trailer. Animated menus and chapter selection are also included. All of the extras are in standard definition except for the trailer and the alternate ending footage.


Fatal Attraction holds up reasonably well despite the fact that by this point in time, it's become a bit of a pop culture cliché. The tension is still there, however, and the performances are still good and Warner has done a nice job with the video and the extras even if the audio is, to be blunt, dull. That said, there's enough here that's right that this is worth a look and the release comes recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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