Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
Year of Release:
“What’s it all about?”
Producer’s synopsis: “A stylish reinvention of the 1960’s classic, “Alfie”, this film is a humorous, sexy and often touching tale of a philosophical womanizer (Jude Law) who is forced to question his seemingly carefree existence.”
The sadness of Alfie’s life is that it’s not really a life. He lives alone, using and mistreating women and himself, and is driven solely by selfishness. The story carries a lot of lightheartedness, but also doesn’t fail to show some consequences from Alfie’s actions. It is a bit of a morality tale where Aflie reaps what he sows.
A remake of the 1960’s film starring Michael Kane, this new Alfie is still a British bloke, but instead of London, resides in Manhattan where he lives his gigolo lifestyle. Sweet-talking himself in and out of women’s lives is Alfie’s specialty, while he fully admits that he intends to sleep with them. Furthermore, after he attains his goal, he finds reasons to not commit to them, leaving them hurt while he moves on to the next pretty face. Eventually his actions catch up with him and he discovers that he has not been getting the better end of the deal after all.
Sex is an enormous part of the subject matter for this film. Close to the beginning there is an implicit scene with Alfie having sex with a lady in the back of a limo. There are several other sex scenes, but they are more implied. One does involve Alfie with two girls, whom we see kissing each other at least twice. And in another scene, although it is not a sexual encounter, involves showing one of Alfie’s live-in girlfriends topless while walking around his apartment.
There is a lot of humor mixed into this story, but it is tempered quite heavily with more serious subject matters as premarital sex, single parenting, unplanned pregnancy, extramarital affairs, broken relationships, and some drug use. The foul language is very minor, but does include one instance of the f word. Alfie also exclaims “Jesus” under his breath a couple times when hearing bad news.
It is interesting that this film doesn’t let Alfie get of scott-free with his loose lifestyle. There is a moment where he thinks he may have a disease, which in turn causes him to want to change his ways. But he doesn’t seem to really do that. He is panged, however, by the upsets he faces after having broken everyone else’s heart. There is a time when he reflects on what he has done, but it doesn’t seem to offer very much. Instead it raises more questions rather than answering any.
After visiting the doctor, Alfie is concerned about his life and admits that he has been thinking about God and death a lot. He says, “If what they told me in Bible classes was true, then I’m in big trouble.” But then he blows all of this off because he has found out his physical condition is okay. He gets close to realizing he needs to repent and turn from his ways, but doesn’t seem to take it too seriously.
Jude Law gives a superb performance. It is easy to like him with his charm and persona, even though we know he is acting so despicably at times. He rarely shows any truly likeable characteristics, though, and the key moment when I really felt for him was when he was finally broken.
The film is well made and well acted, with a few appearances by Susan Sarandon. Their relationship was supposed to be the big sting for Alfie, but it tended to come across like any of his other flings. But Sarandon is sharp, as always. Overall, an interesting slice of a life, but Alfie doesn’t seem to learn or teach us too much.