There seems to be an unrelenting chorus in life, echoed by Fatal Attraction: Sex is bad, sinful, wrong and dangerous. If you just want to fool around, you must be an absolute scumbag, right? Well, this film reminds us that, even if we put all that prudish judgment aside, sexual behavior definitely still carries risks. In addition to possible pangs of pregnancy and sorrowful stings of STDs, there may be emotional attachment, jealousy and deadly obsession. On that note, Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) should have read the warning label before riding the baloney pony with Alexandra “Alex” Forrest (Glenn Close)!

Much like Fear, Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction builds up like a wrecked relationship roller-coaster. However, let’s face it, Fatal Attraction is the superior of the two films, as we more clearly understand the antagonist’s motivations (though both movies feature Ferris wheel scenes). Mr. Gallagher really does come off looking like a selfish bastard at times, and the average viewer will hold him largely responsible for initially inspiring the hellish fury of a woman scorned. At the same time, as the movie ramps things up, Alex definitely crosses one too many lines. By a certain point, if you still feel nothing but sympathy for her character, you too may need your head examined!

The Point

So what’s the ultimate point of Fatal Attraction? Is it just a series of thrills, hardly different from those sought by Gallagher himself? Is it that we shouldn’t use people, as Alex insists he did to her? Could it also be a warning against strict monogamy, which is actually part of the problem this film presents us with? If you ask me, it’s some of all of the above. The movie is indeed a thrill ride, taking us down a darkened, lust-filled road to destruction. It’s also undeniable that Gallagher shouldn’t have cheated on his wife (Anne Archer) ⁠— who, apart from being a decent woman, was also pretty easy on the eyes (so Gallagher hardly even had that excuse!). Also, the guy had a kid, a lovable family dog, a nice new home, probably a white picket fence, the whole works. Why risk throwing it away over some work-related tail?

Fatal Attraction is Somehow Classy…Until it’s Not

Despite all the cheap and tawdry elements to this story, it somehow remains somewhat classy. If you think about it, that’s not the easiest balance. This is due to well-written characters and great performances. While they’re down to earth, Dan and Alex are by no means slobs. They both like opera music, considering themselves cultured and professional. hard-working and well-groomed. At first they seem respectful and articulate. Basically, they’re well-rounded folks, mild-mannered and surely well-meaning in general.

However, when push comes to shove, aren’t we all close enough to becoming shrieking, hysterical primates, never far from slinging our poop at people, places and things we don’t like? Okay, that never literally happens in this film, but Alex technically even behaves worse than that, becoming one of the most memorable unhinged characters in cinema. Quite simply, Fatal Attraction is a classic, and a reminder that sometimes “side action” is too hot to handle, too cold to hold (Yes, that is a Bobby Brown reference. Yes, I’m ending this article with that.).

What do you think of Fatal Attraction? Admit it ⁠— the rabbit scene freaked you out, didn’t it? You can tell us!

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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