posters for Charles Shyer’s remake of Lewis Gilbert’s
Alfie (1966) sports the phrase “What’s
it all about?”
this seemed to be an apt tagline, considering that the plot
of the film is difficult to shoehorn into an attractive
package for targeting specific audiences, but the tagline
was in place for the original as well.
could mean one of two things. Either the studio intended
to mirror to marketing campaign of the original film, or
even with today’s standards the remake is still a
tough sell. It’s likely a mixture of both. Shyer’s
remake places Jude Law into the shoes of the character that
garnered Michael Caine his first Academy Award nomination
back in 1967, and Law plays the role perfectly.
those of us who either a) never saw the original, or b)
forgot it nearly entirely, here is a quick recap. Alfie
is a ladies man who is intuitive in understanding the mind
of womankind sufficiently enough to acquire what he wants,
but is so substantially displaced from his own emotions
to be able to discern exactly what it is that he needs.
present themselves to Alfie all the time, and as a limo
driver he has the tools necessary to take full advantages
of such ripe physical encounters. The problem is that Alfie
is so unaware of a “good thing” when it comes
along that he often squanders the chance of establishing
something more substantial with the women in his life.
role is an excellent step for Law because Alfie is a character
with all too many layers hidden below a shallow two-dimensional
façade. It’s not an easy role to pull off,
especially in the footsteps of someone like Michael Caine,
but Law rises to the challenge. To
call him charming in the role is a bit of an understatement
because he is both dashing and disgusting at once, yet he
never ceases to intrigue throughout the film. As Alfie’s
troubles continue to multiply, we never lose touch with
him to the point of crossing over from a character “we
love to hate” to a character “we just plain
pause just a second here. Has anyone else noticed that Jude
Law is proving to be something of a workhorse this year?
What is the deal?
guy has logged six performances in 2004: I (Heart) Huckabees,
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Alfie
have all been released so far, and he still has Closer
(12/03/2004), Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate
Events (12/17/2004), and a cameo as Errol Flynn in
Scorsese’s The Aviator (12/17/2004).
Ok, so the last two consist of a cameo and some narration
work, but this still remains impressive considering. The
big question is, will it pay off come Award season?
a big part of making Huckabees what it was, and
Sky Captain isn’t likely to strike the Academy
as something special. No, it would seem that Alfie
is his big shot at the prize, and it’s a slim chance
but it might work if the box office is decent enough after
the first week. Anyway, let’s move on.
notable is the style employed here. Alfie begins
with a bang, and it zips and pops throughout the first reel.
Words of the day punctuate Alfie’s encounters, and
everywhere he travels billboards and other signs contain
words that seem to mirror aspects of the film in telling
example, peering through a diner window, Alfie gazes at
a happy family with their child inside. The billboard atop
the diner reads in bold red “DESIRE.” A very
nice touch, indeed.
sucked into his world, full of wit and harsh truths obscured
by an amicable front, always appearing to be the dapper
gentleman on the surface with ulterior thoughts masked beneath.
not to cringe when Alfie encounters his neighbors in the
hallway. It’s near impossible not to judge him immediately,
yet the audacity of his thought process is hysterical.
life of a womanizer is never simplistic, especially in the
movies, so it’s no surprise that a brush with mortality
causes Alfie’s romantic life to take a plummet and
only leads to bigger problems along the way. The film adjusts
accordingly, the pace slows to allow each minor tragedy
sink in and take form into that final classic moment.
down, I was suspicious of this adaptation, especially after
catching a few TV spots prior to going into the screening
Wednesday night. The rising fear that the film would ultimately
be reworked into some sort of modern day romantic comedy
angle on the original seemed daunting, but thankfully this
isn’t the case.
you will find is a film that is clever enough to consistently
entertain yet emotional enough to get the blood flowing
without feeling overtly forced. It’s a moody piece,
but perhaps that is what makes it so enjoyable.
the film with some of the others in attendance Wednesday
it seemed that many felt misled by the trailers, but enjoyed
the outcome nonetheless. The consensus seemed to be that
the film was realistic in its portrayal of a playboy, but
without serving up a spoon-fed message.
the studios are wrong about audiences needing things spelled
out for them? Who knows, but the hard truth is that it will
be a tough weekend for Alfie as it stands to go
head-to-head with Pixar’s latest effort, The Incredibles.