ALFIE

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Charles Shyer

Stars: Jude Law, Marisa Tomei, Omar Epps, Nia Long, Jane Krakowski, Sienna Miller, Susan Sarandon, Gedde Watanabe

Most remakes are lazy and unnecessary, and rarely bring anything fresh or interesting to the material. Although not perfect, this slick, competent remake of iconic British classic Alfie at least tries to leave its own individual mark on this seminal sex comedy about a carefree lothario with a taste for wine and women. Made in 1966, the original Alfie seemed to epitomise the hedonistic pleasures and the carefree single life style of swinging London in the ’60’s, and it shocked conservative audiences at the time with its frankness. More importantly, it made a star out of Michael Caine, who gave one of his better performances as the eponymous character bedding heaps of beautiful women.

Forty years later the very busy Jude Law steps into Caine’s shoes, and he does a good job of suffusing the character with his own brand of charm. In updating the material though, writer/director Charles Shyer (Father Of The Bride, etc) ditches the darker tone of the original for something that is a bit more genial and lighter, and more politically correct. Shyer also relocates the story to the bustling metropolis that is modern Manhattan, where our snappily dressed, smooth talking hero is a limousine driver with plans for one day owning his own business. In the meantime he is happy to drive a number of desirable, wealthy women around the city, and put the moves on a number of attractive females. A brief health scare only temporarily slows him down, until he gets his final comeuppance and is forced to re-evaluate his life.

Alfie’s long stream of conquests in this film include some heavy-weight talent who impress with their strength, including Marisa Tomei, as a single mother who provides him with hot food and the occasional bed; Law’s real-life fiancee Sienna Miller as a good time party girl; and Susan Sarandon, who is superb as the very sexy fifty-plus woman, worldly and confident enough to provide Alfie with a brutal lesson in reality.

At times, this re-working of Alfie seems like a male version of Sex And The City, as every sexual encounter offers Alfie another opportunity to further expound his theories about the male psyche, life, love, and what women want. Law’s Alfie still directly addresses the camera with cheeky style, keeping the audience in touch with his journey of self-discovery, although his ultimate realisation that his life has been empty and shallow lacks the painful honesty of the original. Normally Shyer has a deft touch with comedy, but here he shows some heavy-handedness, especially with his decision to obviously underscore some of the films broader themes through the use of garish visual street signs.

★★☆

 

 

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