Alfie (2004)

alfie__2004__jude_lawI wasn’t a big fan of the original 1966 film starring the great Michael Caine. About a year prior to the release of the remake, I decided to give “Alfie” a watch, and really wasn’t impressed. For all whom aren’t familiar with the original, “Alfie” takes place in London, and not in New York, and it’s much darker and colder than the remake. Though, as always, movie fans will be divided with both versions, I just had to pick the remake. Granted, neither of them are masterpieces, nor are the rip-offs, but the modern “Alfie” is much more enjoyable in the long run.

For me the notion of a film chronicling the life of a promiscuous man smugly addressing his audience on his life, and then crumbling before us, still not being able to gain our sympathies speaks of self-indulgence to me. One of the main aspects that made the original “Alfie” so sub-par was that there was no way we could relate to the character of Alfie. He was a slimy, low-life, worm, and the film never made us sympathize for him. In the remake of “Alfie” he’s much more human, much more feeling, but he’s still a low-life who probably will never change. The writers even give a good attempt at pinpointing why Alfie views his women as objects, and passing experiences while forgetting their emotions whenever he dumps them by placing the commitment stigma and lack of sympathy on his mom. Even with some humanistic traits added to Alfie, it’s still hard to sympathize for such an unlikable character, but this remake works.

Especially with Jude Law. Law gives a very good performance with one part smugness, one part charm, and one part sex appeal that will account for a large audience. He looks like he’s having fun in his character’s shoes, and we tend to have fun too. This remake is also quite faithful to the original, from his diatribes about women, the woman who he forces to have an abortion, and his older lover played with much zeal by Susan Sarandon who is a worthy replacement for Shelly Winters. Sarandon and Law have some of the best sequences and on display are many beautiful women including Jane Krakowski, Sienna Miller, and Marisa Tomei. Law is great in the character of Alfie, and he makes this experience much more rewarding than the former.

However for all the money put in to the “Alfie” remake, regardless of who stars in it, it doesn’t shake the fact that neither movie are very good. “Alfie” was always a wildly over blown film without a really good moment to it. You assume a film about a bachelor sleeping with woman after woman would make for an incredibly interesting view of sexual escapades, but both films can never really take advantage of it. “Alfie”, the remake, is a very forgettable film that, not surprisingly, didn’t make a lot of money. One of the main reasons I suspect for it was because the film is nothing but style and flair and no texture. There are no characters that we can ever relate to or find sympathy for. The script paints these beautiful people as vain attempts at real individuals all of whom really deserve what they’re given.

Dumb women, gullible best friends, and a really sleazy main character, neither of whom come to their realizations that the audience has already figured out. “Alfie” is also a dull and repetitive film that uses the escapades as a clothesline for the plot, and we’re never really given much insight in to Alfie’s mind, and we only really go as far as the concept upon which he’s drawn for us. The dashing hard to hate romancer. “Alfie” is sadly a rambling and self-indulgent affair, particularly because the director is intent on drawing out the plot for as long as humanly possible just to flaunt Law’s style, and the gorgeous scenery around him as he canoodles with his women folk. Therefore, “Alfie” goes on way too long with much too much meandering, and a plot resolution that feels like anything but. Sure, Law is great as always, and the direction is nice to look at, and this remake is much better than the original, but it’s not much of an accomplishment, even when you consider that this is just as forgettable as the original.