The villain who is really a victim. First the fight’s between Dan the Husband ( Michael Douglas ) and Alex the Mistress ( Glenn Close ); she’s trying to hold on, he’s trying to cover up. When Beth the Wife ( Anne Archer ) gets in the picture, it’s up to HER to protect her family. I like that.
The ending you cite that the studio wanted to use seems like it also has holes and conveniently ties up loose ends. How does Douglas’ prints get on the knife Close uses to slit her own throat? ( Throat…not wrist. Ack! Gruesome ). And the wife finds a tape from the mistress? ( Hmmmm ). Perhaps in order for Alex to be the “victim” Beth would have had to be a nagging shrew ( think Edward G. Robinson’s wife in “Scarlet Street” ) and Dan would really have to be a pursuing hound dog. As the movie stands, the opportunity for an affair kind of falls into Dan’s lap. He doesn’t actively pursue Alex. She’s conveniently put on a silver platter for him that he takes advantage of.
The current ending nice and neat? I dunno. Sometimes things are tied up in a bow, and sometimes things just flow linearly; a natural progression of events. There is still the jagged edge ( another Glenn Close movie ) of the husband and wife dealing with his infidelity.
This movie makes me think of “Play Misty for Me.” Some girls just can’t take a one-night stand. I jotted down this comment as I read your entry, and to my pleasant sur-prise, as I continue reading, I see reader “le0pard13” cites “Play Misty for Me” as well. Ha!! Now THAT makes me feel very smart. I’m also thinking “Blue Steel” ( Jamie Lee Curtis / Ron Silver ). I know…not exactly the same thing – his psychosexual psychosis was all mixed up with guns. But I’m thinking of a lover who is spurned who can’t take no for answer going completely off the beam. It gets worse with men because they want to start shootin’ things up, and asking questions never.
I hear what you’re saying here:
“But it’s difficult to really feel any sympathy for her character because the film is told through the eyes of Dan. Everything that’s threatened belongs in his world, nothing is considered through the eyes of a single female. The message? That women who seek liberty or equality pay with empty beds and incomplete lives: the sanctity of family triumphs over everything. Passion is – and will be – punished.”
As an indie filmmaker and ( totally struggling ) screenwriter, it’s always a task to know WHOSE point of view the story tells. We can’t please everyone. Where do we want to take the audience and who takes us there? We can’t have tentacles of fairness for each and every single character unless one is a very very skillful writer. ( Yes, Alex did get the short end of the stick, but ) maybe this was more Dan’s story. Isn’t that the thing with movies…whose point of view drives the story? Every thing hinges on that.
Think about “Rocky.” ( Yes, I insist. ) The p.o.v. is such that though Rocky loses the big fight against Apollo Creed, we’re rooting for Rocky, the underdog. We’re not looking at Apollo having to deal with a challenger who’s a mug. Think about “The Letter.” ( Ahhh, that feels better, right? ) Why don’t we take Gale Sondergaard’s side? After all she IS Mr. Hammond’s widow. Is it because she has eyes like a cobra’s eyes? Check it…Bette Davis cheats on her husband with a married man. Why are we in Bette’s camp, part of the Imperial class, hoping she can get that incriminating letter back without her staid vanilla of a husband ( Herbert Marshall ) finding out she has tapped out his bank account? Am I alone in rooting for Bette?
You say here:
“There has to be something else – from past relationships, childhood or any other Freudian cliché you care to float – that can explain her evil, because ‘career girl goes mad in the face of domestic bliss’ just doesn’t seem ample justification …In contrast to Dan, Alex doesn’t seem to have any friends (another lesson to independent women?) who can counsel her actions or offer advice.”
it wouldn’t hurt to have one phone call from an Eve Arden-type friend to say to Alex: “Not again, girl. What’d I tell you about that?” (( Note to Self: Make sure you throw in a voice of reason before you have your heroine go off half-cocked. ))
Anne Archer is sexy in a wholesome way. ( Not in a Jayne Mansfield way. ) She’s sexy in the organic way that is covered by the umbrella of love and marriage and partnership and trust. Movies are very simplistic: white hats / black hats. We can see they have a loving re- lationship. I feel the movie is a cautionary story against having affairs. Michael Douglas had a run there and spearheaded being caught in the zeitgeist of the time with this triple feature of “Basic Instinct” “Fatal Attraction” and “Disclosure”.
Call me crazy, call me silly but I guess I’m a willing participant in being manipulated by movies. (Just don’t make it too obvious though). I never took Alex’s behavior as an indictment of Sex and the Single Girl. But I will never forgive her for the bunny.