Fatal Attraction

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Fatal Attraction

This 1987 film by director Adrian Lyne (1941–) was seen by some social critics as a warning about the dangers of adultery. Others called it an example of a backlash against feminism. Still others saw it simply as a first-class thriller.

Michael Douglas (1944–) plays Dan Gallagher, a lawyer whose work brings him into contact with wealthy, beautiful Alex Forrest (played by Glenn Close, 1947–, in a departure from her usual role of nurturing mother figure). The two are instantly attracted to one another. Although Gallagher is married, and Alex knows it, the two engage in a brief, passionate affair.

When Gallagher tries to end the encounter (as both of them had agreed), Alex becomes enraged, showing herself to be mentally unstable. She tells Gallagher that the affair is not over, and his going back to his wife and daughter will not make any difference to her.

Alex begins stalking Gallagher and his family. At first, she seems only intent on making Gallagher uncomfortable. But when Gallagher refuses to return to her bed, Alex begins to escalate the harassment. She breaks into the Gallaghers' home and kills the family's pet rabbit. She takes the daughter for a terrifying roller-coaster ride. She tells Gallagher that she is pregnant with his child. Finally, Alex turns violent.

The film was financially successful and also generated considerable discussion across America about adultery, obsession, and the high cost of adventure.

—Justin Gustainis

For More Information

Conlon, James. "The Place of Passion: Reflections on Fatal Attraction." Journal of Popular Film and Television (Winter 1989): pp. 148–55.

Holmlund, Chris. "Reading Character with a Vengeance: The Fatal Attraction Phenomenon." Velvet Light-Trap (Spring 1991): pp. 25–36.

Rohrkemper, John. "'Fatal Attraction': The Politics of Terror." Journal ofPopular Culture (Winter 1992): pp. 83–89.

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