Picks and Pans Review: Fatal Attraction

updated 10/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Here's the first movie of the AIDS era (though the virus is never mentioned) to drive a stake into the heart of the one-night stand. Michael Douglas plays a Manhattan publishing lawyer whose wife (Anne Archer) leaves town with their small daughter for the weekend. Everybody makes kissy-poo, bye-bye; it's a good marriage. At a Saturday morning business meeting, Douglas finds an attractive book editor (Glenn Close) eyeballing him. He eyeballs back. Look, it's Saturday, it's raining, why not a drink, maybe dinner? For dessert the two thrash around her SoHo loft. They have sex in sinks, elevators, even bed. By morning Douglas is eager to write the whole thing off. Close is not, and here's where the wages of sin come in. She professes love (and later pregnancy). She slashes her wrists, makes harassing late-night phone calls, corners him at his office, kills the family rabbit and then goes after the family. Welcome to The Big Chill Meets Psycho. The lurid plot, expanded by James Dearden from a featurette he wrote in 1979, would be easily dismissed if it weren't so shrewdly conceived to touch on the sexual fears of the day. Everything about this movie, directed by Adrian (Flashdance, 9½ Weeks) Lyne, goes too far, but it grabs you. And the actors play the situation for every erotic jolt and spine-stiffening shock. As a morally wobbly yuppie, Douglas stays amazingly sympathetic. The gorgeous Archer (a semi-regular on TV's Falcon Crest) gives her perfect-wife role a sly acquisitiveness—the kind that might complicate even a solid marriage. As the girl who's looked for Daddy in too many married men, the usually constricted Close finds her breakthrough role and plays it with heat and bite. This is her chance to howl; the film's crude energy liberates her. Ditto the audience. At a recent showing, couples talked openly to the screen and each other. Woman: "See, that's what you get for sleeping around." Man: "But, honey, that's not me." Woman (shaking her head knowingly): "Men." Bet on this sexual hell-raiser to become the year's hot-topic movie for couples. (R)

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