Fatal Attraction (1987)

One of the definitive thrillers of the 1980s, Adrian Lyne’s trendsetting blockbuster hasn’t aged particularly well (in particular its gender politics), but goodness gracious, is it ever a pulse-pounding, roller-coaster ride of a movie. Although the narrative primarily focuses on Michael Douglas’s Dan, a family man who jeopardizes his and his family’s safety after having an affair with unstable co-worker Glenn Close, the movie is all about Close’s performance. She fills every inch of the screen with an alternately warm and explosive presence, who grows incrementally more agitated and dangerous as Douglas continues to mistreat her and try to erase her from his personal history. It’s a stunning, legendarily effective performance that benefits from Close’s evident empathy for her troubled character, and she’s a wonder to behold. Everyone else is excellent as well, as is the movie’s tone and pace: Director Lyne benefits from Peter E. Berger and Michael Kahn’s first-rate editing, which manages to craft Lyne’s keen eye for frame composition and warm familiarity into the kind of thriller that furiously chugs along until its explosive climax leaves you with your knees knocking. It’s first-rate mainstream entertainment that comes close to being an outright masterpiece.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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