Sunday, 20 July 2014

Watching Fatal Attraction, the whole "Obsessed" mentality and The Rabbit Scene

It's kind of hard to make the stalker references for Fatal Attraction because all the stalker references I know came from Fatal Attraction. Literally, all of them, right down to "I'm not going to be ignored."

Well, I'm listening to Every Breath You Take by the Police, so maybe that will set the scene. (I will never understand why some people play that at their weddings. It's like playing "Baby, You're a Rich Man" in the middle of a homeless shelter. It kind of conveys the opposite of what you want. No offence if you played that at your wedding.)

Anyway, I'm not going to go over and over the plot of Fatal Attraction because mostly everyone knows it even if they haven't seen the film-Michael Douglas has an affair with Glenn Close over a weekend, she becomes obsessed and then starts stalking him and his family. It's creepy, weird and scared all married men into fidelity for roughly ten years. It's also, really, really good.

There's a load of controversy over whether Alex Forrest deserves to be blamed as much as she is, and whether Michael Douglas's character-I know he has a name but I can't remember it. Yes, I'm really thorough-deserves to be pitied as much as he is. Yeah, Alex is clearly not stable, but Michael Douglas' character is the guy who decided to have an affair, when he was apparently completely happy with his wife and little girl. And I mean, adorable little girl. She was seriously one of the high points of the film for me-his six year old daughter, who's just sweet and nice and not the Macaulay-Culkin type, but just a cute kid. She kind of brings the humanity into it and I felt really sorry for her being stuck with a dad who cheats on her mother and puts literally her whole family in danger. She was actually the one I felt sorriest for in the whole movie.


Anyway, the acting's actually great by everyone and the standout is-perhaps naturally, since she gets the meatiest character-Glenn Close. She plays Alex Forrest, really, really well-she doesn't start out as a knife-wielding psycho, she seems sweet, intelligent, educated, etc. It's only when Dan-the Internet informs me that Michael Douglas' character was called Dan-basically cuts things off with her that she goes nuts and starts stalking him.

And that's basically how it's portrayed-she's nuts. They don't really go into the mental health behind it though I've heard some people describe it as possible de Clerambault's syndrome. We're just kind of supposed to see her as this insane woman who's obsessed with this guy-who does at least get a load of punishment from his wife when she finds out what's gone on. I guess this was partly because of the time period and if the film was made today, the mental-health angle would be totally different. But it still rankles that they don't really bother to go into the whole motivation and psychology of mental-illness thing.

Anyway, the film has really great scenes and the camera angles are really clever-the scene where they're running in the park and where Ellen runs to the hutch, with the camera following at her feet are great. Maybe that's why Dan gets all the sympathy-you kind of feel like you're in the film with them, and you feel desperately sorry for his wife and daughter, who really did nothing wrong except be related to a cheating asshole. (And no matter how sorry you feel for him, he was a complete asshole there. I'm sorry, it's true.)

There are a lot of famous scenes-the one where Alex smears her blood over Dan's face, the one where he walks into the apartment and she's sitting there, chatting with his wife, the tape scene in the car, the one with "I'm not going to be ignored"-that one's particularly creepy because she sounds so reasonable for half of it-but there's the one scene that everyone knows.

The one scene that freaks everyone out. The one scene that prompts the big confession from Dan, the one scene that sent every man who saw it out of the cinema and straight home to polish their wedding rings and start stocking up on alarm systems. The big scene that coined the term "bunny-boiler."

The rabbit scene.

I think I'll just give you the clip.

Yeah, that's pretty much the point of no return for sanity. Boiling a kid's rabbit generally sends someone over the edge.

                                  But at least, she started dinner for them.

I guess you could call this the boiling point. *crash the cymbals*

Weirdly enough, that's not even the worst thing that happens in the movie. Alex KIDNAPS ELLEN and just walks her around a theme park for hours, leaving the threat of what could have happened hanging over everyone's heads. And of course, we get the big confrontation between Beth, Dan's wife and Alex when Alex breaks in and they end up in the bathroom brawl scene in which Alex seems to be beating Rasputin for failing to die until they finally just break out a gun.

It kind of ends-weirdly. After-spoilers-Alex is killed, and the police take the body away, etc, Dan and Beth just go back inside and sit down and the camera pans in on a photograph of the family. I guess the whole "You had an affair and put everyone's lives in danger thing" can be forgotten pretty quickly with a  wholesome family photo.

"Your family stalked by a psychotic woman who wishes to murder you all and snag you for herself? Photo frames for those wholesome family moments."
But anyway, the film's interesting, Adrian Lyne does a great job directing, the soundtrack is interestingly creepy-and these days, loads of people bring up an issue with the film. An issue that states:

Isn't it kind of unfortunate that Alex Forrest, who appears to be an intelligent, independent woman is shown to go nuts and become an insanely dependent harpy after sleeping with a guy?

Look, I like feminism and I'm all for equality but I really think the film would have been just as creepy if it was the other way around-a guy obsessed with a girl. I don't think this is an anti-feminist film-his wife's portrayed as a good person and so's mostly all the other women-there's actually a comment near the start that seems to hint that men are wrong to think that women should just be automatically open to their advances, so I don't think the film is a misogynistic one. I get that today it would probably be handled differently, though, with maybe a little more insight into why Alex is the way she is, has it happened in the past, etc. (We do get kind of a hint that she's a fantasist.)

Fatal Attraction's still REALLY REALLY POPULAR and maybe the whole reason it's so creepy is that today it's still kind of resonant. I mean, who hasn't had a celebrity crush? Or been slightly obsessed with someone you're fantasizing about? And with the advent of the Internet, it's all too easy to find who you want to find. Maybe when the film came out, the whole fear for the men was that anyone of them could become Dan just by sleeping with the wrong woman. But I think today, there's a niggling fear that would any of us-men or women-know if we were becoming Alex?

Think about it. She sounds so reasonable in that not going to be ignored scene-it's even Dan who throws her against the wall. She befriends his wife with little difficulty. And she genuinely sees herself as in the right and as the reasonable one in the situation. So-would any of us know if we were becoming too obsessed? Where does it cross the line?

On that slightly creepy note, I'll leave you with Alex's lamp being switched on and off.

                          "Don't you hate when the pizza man takes forever?"

Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay,
I'll be watching you
Oh can't you see, you belong to me-The Police.

Who wants to bet that that would be Alex Forrest's favourite song?

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