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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Alfie

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Judy Thorburn

Jude Law Is Irristable As "Alfie"

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JUDE LAW IS IRRESISTABLE AS SHALLOW “ALFIE”

Could it really be that almost forty years have passed since the original “Alfie” film was released?  This was the movie, which brought a young and dashing Michael Caine to the attention of movie audiences and catapulted him to superstardom.  At the time, Alfie was considered a rather bold and sexy look into the lifestyle of an irresponsible womanizer. But, compared to what we see onscreen today, it was rather tame.  This newer, up to date version stars Jude Law, and he makes the role his own. This is Jude’s most, sexy charismatic appearance on screen yet, bringing another dimension and even more depth to the title character, although still a love ‘em and leave ‘ em cad who discovers a rude awakening about the most important things in life. He may be self-indulgent and narcissistic, but not as cold and calculating underneath that superficial layer as portrayed in the 60’s darker version. Writers Elaine Pope and Charles Shyer (who is also the director) have essentially taken the original tale and re-worked it, surrounding Alfie with a new and different breed of women (except for one), additional characters and a storyline that is more contemporary and very effective. But, Alfie still talks to the camera, expressing all his thoughts and feelings to the listening audience as we follow his escapades with all the women who come in and out of his life.

Whereas Caine’s Alfie was a cockney, man about London, Alfie Elkins is now living in Manhattan.  And, why?  Because, as Alfie himself, tells us, its all about location, location, location.  And the most beautiful women in the world live in New York, where he carries over the European philosophy where priorities are wine and women and living life to the fullest.  Of course, what that means to this confirmed bachelor is never making a commitment, and never settling down with one, when there are endless women to “shag”. That is, until he begins to realize the consequences of his self-destructive behavior.

It is easy to see why any woman wouldn’t fall for Alfie.  Jude Law is simply irresistible, gorgeous, and charming, with a mesmerizing smile and twinkle in his eye, that would cause any straight, hot blooded woman to melt, me included.  As Alfie, he doesn’t have the intentions of hurting anybody; he just does.  But, the women, although caught in his web, and no doubt affected as the result of their relationship with him, are strong and independent characters, who know when to move on. They are far removed from the weak victims portrayed in the 1996 film. 

Making his rounds as a limousine driver for Elegant Limousine and Chauffeur Company has made it easy to find a catch. So, when he isn’t spending time with his part time girlfriend, single mother Julie (understated, Marisa Tomei) who wants him to settle down, he connects with a diverse assortment of women he meets on the job. They include lonely, married Dorie (Jane Krakowski, Ally McBeal), with whom he has a “quickie” in the back seat; showstopper, beautiful, but damaged Nikki (newcomer, Sienna Miller) and voluptuous, over fifty non-nonsense businesswoman, Liz (always superb Susan Sarandon), a woman with whom he’s met his match.

All are wonderfully cast, as is the chemistry with their leading man.  However, Nia Long brings a smoldering beauty and dignity to her role as Lonette, the estranged girlfriend of Alfie’s best friend Marlon (Omar Epps), who has a one night dalliance that goes way over the boundaries, leaving immense repercussions in its wake.   The flirtations leading up to, and culminating with sex on a pool table, is one of the hottest, steamiest scenes I have seen in a long time, thanks to stunning camera work by Ashley Rowe, and music by Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart, who supplied the great soundtrack throughout the film.

As much as you want to want to dislike Alfie for being so shallow and flawed, you can’t help but feel sorry for his character, a man in dire need of change in the right direction.  When his life starts to unravel, Alfie turns to the wisdom and knowledge of an elderly man who offers him advice and a sympathetic ear.

This Alfie may not be as edgy and dramatic as the 1996 movie, but they both lead to the same conclusion about self-discovery and values.  Only I preferred this smart, sometimes amusing version, having connected more emotionally with all the characters and story.  Paraphrasing Paul McCartney - Hey Jude, you took a sad song and made it better.