Alfie

| November 8, 2004

Re-makes are often a dreaded venture, but in some cases, like the case of Alfie, they can be a success. This film is a remake of the 1966 flick of the same name that starred Michael Caine, about a Manhattan limo driver who spends his free time seducing a different woman almost every night. This time Jude Law is in the title role, and Charles Shyer in the director’s chair.
However, Jude Law has proven himself time and time again to me, and this film proved no differently. He really is a fantastic actor, worthy of the fame and fortune he has received. I love the subtlety in his acting, his ability to convey small nuances, to convince his audience that this is the most natural thing in the world. He’s one of the only actors I could think of today that could actually make talking directly at the camera for the majority of the movie seem natural and not annoying. It was an added bonus that Marisa Tomei played one of his girlfriends, for I’ve always enjoyed watching her on the screen–there is something that just glows inside her, that makes you automatically love her character no matter what role she’s portraying. And although I love Susan Sarandon, the past few roles I’ve seen her in have all been disgustingly similar. She seems to be made for the role though–the strong, independent, somewhat manipulative older woman.
One thing that was a particularly effective choice in the film was the editing–in general it was quite stellar, incredibly stylized for its subject, but yet not distracting. The film’s use of jump cuts really accentuated the story in a subtle and delightful way, by creating this wonderful sense of déja vu, the feeling that the character of Alfie has definitely been in these situations numerous times before. The expertise of this technique was entirely unexpected.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this movie. I would have gone to see it whether I was reviewing it or not, specifically to see Jude Law–I mean, who wouldn’t?–but I didn’t expect it to be a worthwhile cinematic venture. It was a nice surprise to find the film actually enjoyable. With its subject, it could have become overly preachy and nauseating–“Don’t womanize! Look what can happen! No fun for anyone!”–but thankfully it managed to refrain from becoming excessively condescending. It did come pretty close, though. I was quite pleased to discover that Alfie neglected to end in the way that I anticipated. Although there was decidedly a lesson learned, and a transformation in Jude Law’s character, it didn’t end in the predictable way that we have all grown to know and expect.
I did enjoy Alfie, but I can guarantee that it won’t be in my “Top Ten of the Year” list. It’s merely a fun and sweet movie, with a terrific cast supporting it. Unless you’re a huge fan of Jude Law, I would definitely consider saving your cash for one of the other superb choices coming out this season.

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