R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Charles Shyer
scr Elaine Pope, Charles Shyer
with Jude Law, Marisa Tomei, Omar Epps, Nia Long, Susan Sarandon, Sienna Miller, Jane Krakowski, Gedde Watanabe, Julienne Davis, Anastasia Griffith, Tara Summers, Graydon Carter
release US/UK 22.Oct.04
04/US 1h40

What's it all about: Law and Long

law tomei epps
Alfie (2004) - Green (Advance) Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
It's unclear why you'd remake the 1966 British romp, which was a product of its time (and introduced the world to Michael Caine). I've never seen the original all the way through, so I'm not judging this remake by that standard. And while this one does have a certain charm, it's also fundamentally, fatally flawed.

Alfie (Law) is a handsome Englishman in Manhattan, where he drives a limo and enjoys the commitment-free life. But his "quasi-girlfriend" Julie (Tomei) wants more out of him, and his coworker Marlon (Epps) is settling down with his girlfriend (Long). So Alfie starts thinking. Sort of. He starts a relationship with a party girl (Miller) and then begins to fall in love with a sexy businesswoman (Sarandon). He's on a journey into Important Life Lessons here, but will he finally be able to answer that question: What's it all about?

Duh! It's an American remake! In other words, it's moralising and preachy that poor Alfie couldn't miss the message if he tried. Where the character badly needs a streak of ironic nastiness, the filmmakers insert a soft, mushy centre instead. We never believe he's a misogynist womaniser--all four women he beds in the film carry strong emotional baggage for him. For a film about sexual irresponsibility, this is far too puritanical and sanitised. The script is just not clever enough for the subject matter, taking a simplistic, watered-down route through what should be thought-provoking subject matter.

And there's another problem: The role needs someone who gets by on charisma more than looks. Law is a Greek god who comes across as oily and smug when he lays on the charm. And it doesn't help that he's directed to deliver the straight-to-camera narration in such a swaggering way, making him even smarmier. In the dramatic scenes, Law is excellent and likeable; but in his chatty commentary he's borderline despicable. The surrounding cast is good--Epps and Long get the emotional scenes, Sarandon is in sexy Bull Durham mode, Tomei adds substance in surprising ways. But the film is far too excited about itself, and Shyer's attempts to generate sympathy for this supposedly broken man are completely wasted.

cert 15 themes, language, brief sex 6.Oct.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Alfie Donna Carter, Wisconsin: "Interesting movie. Not your typical movie. I'm never sure how I feel about movies where the main character addresses the audience directly. At first I thought I really wasn't going to like it. It half-way grew on me, but I'm still not sure I liked it. I understood a lot of it - dealing with dysfunctional relationships, one-night-stands, inability to commit, and the pain and unfulfilled feeling left in your soul - consequences of the choices we make. It was an interesting movie. It was very well acted, I thought. I don't know if I'll ever be sure I really liked it or not, but I don't regret watching it. I think it succeeded in its purpose in leaving the audience with a question rather than an answer, and the lingering 'be careful what you wish for' admonition." (7.Nov.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall