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Film Review: Alfie

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PM Rating System Grade: B+ | Genre:
Romance
Summary: Surprisingly, Alfie’s annoying asides and the predictable storyline only mildly detract from this immensely enjoyable film. For this one brief moment, every ordinary guy can be transformed into the man every woman wants and every woman can feel the spark of sexual exhilaration charged from being with that guy who is completely wrong for her in all the right ways.

AlfieStarring: Jude Law, Marisa Tomei, Omar Epps, Nia Long, Sienna Miller & Susan Sarandon
Director: Charles Shyer

What is it about the womanizers that everyone loves? Every man wants a taste of that life (yes ladies especially your ultra-committed, domesticated man) and every woman finds them irresistibly intoxicating. It’s grounded in the excitement of it all, to be free of life’s strings that bind us down. To take on many loves without question or regret in order to live life to it’s fullest in each moment. There is something incredibly innocent and naive about it, living life purely based on the whim of human desire. Hardly any of us would actually try it because, well, we have a conscious realizing how ruthless selfishness affect those who place their trust in us. And, to be honest, few of us are blessed with the good looks, cunning and charm to pull it off. I guess that is why we love to live vicariously through these characters.

Alfie (Jude Law) could give 007 a run for his money when it comes to the fairer sex. He is suave with his ultra-designer suits, devilish smile and impeccable charm that ooze all over every woman in his path. The fact that he is a Brit in Manhattan certainly doesn’t hurt his sex appeal. Like all true womanizers, Alfie abandoned his nagging conscious long ago. He takes advantage of Alice (Marisa Tomei), a single mom who he sees as a warm bed and a stable night’s screw. He dabbles in commitment with the fine as hell, chain smoking, manic-depressive Nikki (played by Law’s fiancee Sienna Miller) only to kick her to the curb when he can’t stand the itch any longer. He puts a pool table to good use with his best friend’s recently departed woman (a sizzling Nia Long) in an effort to push her back into his arms. At least that’s what he tells himself to stay balanced on this precarious moral wire he’s suspended on. Alfie is so hopelessly self-absorbed. He has no concept of the litter of hearts that he leaves in his wake. It’s just not something he can concern himself with.

His emotional vacancy can only last for so long as his actions eventually begin to catch up with him through indirect avenues. He slowly starts to question his lifestyle and wonders if there is more to life than hopping in an out of beautiful women’s beds. The problem is, he has burned so many bridges along the way, there is no substance remaining for him to piece together. Interestingly, his carefully built facade begins to crumble though he doesn’t flake apart with it. He constantly flashes those pearly whites and looks for the ever-diminishing positives as they swirl down the drain. As the movie closes, we see Alfie transformed into a three-dimensional person complete with feelings and depth, yet there is still a nagging void to him. There is no miraculous love that transforms him queuing the happily ever after. There is no massive revelation that firmly attach to the audience’s mind that this new Alfie is here to stay. The uncertainty really gives us the one thing that has been lacking throughout the entire film — a chance to speculate over what is going on in his mind.

From the moment we are introduced to Alfie, we know everything running through his head. He directs those sea blue eyes into the camera’s gaze and spills his intentions on the lens. All the while the unsuspecting lady of the moment continues to unfold her day in the background unaware. I always hate these theatrical solilquies when they are plugged into a film because a great film should be able to tell us without telling us. It should be inherent through the small subtleties of a look, the quiet brush of a hand or loosing control over a nervous laugh. It’s like getting the Cliff Notes to a film, and that can’t help but reflect poorly on the screenwriter. Since this is a remake (the 1966 original afforded an Oscar to Michael Caine), I guess I can’t lambaste the writer too much for this. Thankfully the hefty load of exposition dumped on us eventually dwindles from constant to tolerable as the movie progresses.

Surprisingly, Alfie’s annoying asides and the predictable storyline only mildly detract from this immensely enjoyable film. Jude Law is perfectly cast as Alfie and I have to give it a slight edge on the stellar performance he gave in Closer released to theatres around the same time last year. Jude just looks like he was born to be a ladies man. He’s just too smooth and too handsome with those slight, perfect scuffs on his porcelain veneer that resonate coolness. Its irksome I tell you. The women he beds define gorgeous and Law really wraps you up in this character. For this one brief moment, every ordinary guy can be transformed into the man every woman wants and every woman can feel the spark of sexual exhilaration charged from being with that guy who is completely wrong for her in all the right ways.

For more film critiques by this reviewer, please visit PM Media Review.

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About Mark Runyon

  • jade

    i think jude law has done a fantastic job! i admire the way the story seemed endless though there was really no point of going on because alfie’s personality already becomes very predictable. actually that counts for everything about him- his next move, his next should i say “victim” and all. For some weird reason this cunning character of his is the type that can really nail a viewer on the couch. Hahaha. Here, here to the performance of a splendid actor! Congrats Jude!