82. Alfie (2004) [Rated R for sexual content, some language and drug use.]
summary from imdb.com:
In Manhattan, the British limousine driver Alfie is surrounded by beautiful women, most of them clients, and he lives as a Don Juan, having one night stands with all of them and without any sort of commitment. His girl-friend and single-mother Julie is quite upset with the situation and his best friends are his colleague Marlon and his girl-friend Lonette. Alfie has a brief affair with Lonette, and the consequences of his act forces Alfie to reflect and wonder about his life style.
directed by: Charles Shyer
starring: Jude Law, Jane Krakowski, Marisa Tomei, Omar Epps, Nia Long, Susan Sarandon, Sienna Miller
Jude Law: So how have you been?
Nia Long: I’m pregnant.
Jude: It seems to me the problems you worry yourself sick about never seem to materialize. It’s the ones that catch you unexpectedly on a Wednesday afternoon that knock you sideways. I offered to face the music with her… but she wanted to go it alone. We both knew that if the baby was born with any white-boy features it would mean the end of Lonette and Marlon. Not to mention your host for this evening. But standing in the cold, I find myself having regrets. Thinking thoughts like, “Here’s another kid you’ll never get a chance to know. Your own.” Didn’t take long. Bloody hell, you’re freezing. How do you feel?
Jude: That night in the bar, I thought I was getting something for nothing. Doesn’t seem to have worked out that way, does it?
Nia Long: You know, Alfie, dropping by wasn’t a good idea.
Jude Law: You two didn’t have a baby. You did have a baby.
Nia: No, you were right the first time.
Jude: Thinking back to that day at the clinic, I remember trying to look in Lon’s eyes to see if I could even begin to understand what she was going through, and how she wouldn’t look at me. And I think I knew then. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. So classically, I said nothing.
Nia: I knew there was a good chance the baby could be Marlon’s. At least, I hoped.
Jude: This is a lot for me too, Lon. Marlon stayed.
Nia: For now.
Jude: Is there anything I can do?
Nia: What are you gonna do, Alfie?
Jude: Hey. You know, I never… I never meant…
Omar Epps: You never mean to hurt anybody. But you do, Alfie.
Jude: I felt I needed a friend to talk to. Problem was, they were suddenly in short supply. And I don’t remember being in the car. I just… I just… I was stopped. And I’m crying.
Dick Latessa: Crying for the little one?
Jude: I don’t know exactly. Maybe for him. Mostly, I think, for me. And Marlon. I never had anybody look at me quite like that before. And believe me, I’ve had some looks that could kill. He stood by Lonette. I could’ve never, ever…
Dick: You don’t know what you’ll do till you really love someone.
Take “Alfie” (which, even if you are a happily married Security Mom, you might wish to do, given the beauty of Jude Law in the starring role). In contrast to the original 1966 “Alfie,” in which Michael Caine played a cruel destroyer, Mr. Law is a charming Cockney swordsman thrusting and parrying his way through Manhattan womanhood. In one of many fertile subplots, a pregnancy ensues. When in the same predicament, the original Alfie procures a gruesome illegal abortion for his mistress and dissolves in anguish when confronted with the reproductive consequences of sex. It “brings it home to you what you are when you see a helpless little thing like that lying in your hands,” Alfie says.
In the remake, neither Alfie nor the woman raises any other solution than the “safe, legal and rare” one, so off they go to a clinic. The scene takes perhaps two minutes and has the emotional wallop of a pharmaceutical ad. It’s just as NARAL/Pro-Choice America would want it: Keep your judgmentalism off her body, man.
Better to touch on the melancholy and physical suffering of the adults. Better yet to cast any such suffering in solipsistic terms that will be pleasantly painful for the audience while not forcing anyone to think too hard about what, exactly, was aborted. Thus the new Alfie, jogging to keep warm as he waits outside the clinic, muses: “I find myself having regrets. Here’s another kid you’ll never get to know–your own.” I, me, mine, you, and yours but, er, what about the kid?
There is an unexpected answer to that, in the case of Alfie, so if you plan to see the remake and want every scintilla of surprise, stop reading right now. It happens that, once inside the clinic, the pregnant woman, who is black, decides not to have an abortion–though she doesn’t tell Alfie–and he learns that he is a father only months later. Yet it is not exactly a pro-life moment when he does.
In the film’s most unintentionally chilling line, with the baby gurgling right in front of us, the mother explains that she spared the child because there was a chance it might have belonged not to Alfie but to her dark-skinned boyfriend. Alas, the baby is born a tell-tale light brown. The audience is invited to see how much happier these three adults would have been if the infant had been made to disappear.
Alfie (1965) is the movie that gave British actor Michael Caine one of his first starring roles. As the title character, Caine plays Alfie, a free-wheeling, promiscuous bachelor in 1960’s London. He carelessly roams from one of his many “birds” (girls) to another without any care for emotional or physical consequences. Alfie’s breezy existence crashes to a halt, however, after he procures an illegal abortion at his apartment for a married woman he’s impregnated. After the sordid deed is completed by a seedy abortionist, Caine enters his kitchen and confronts the sight of the dead fetus that the abortion has produced. Although the viewer does not see what Alfie sees, we see the man become incredibly distressed and troubled at what he’s faced. The scene is the critical moment of the film, as Alfie is now forced to confront what he’s done and what he’s made of his life. Alfie rushes from his apartment to visit his friend Nat, to whom he makes a startling confession.
ALFIE: I could’ve dropped on the spot with the shock. All I was expecting to see was — Well, come to think of it, I don’t hardly know what I was expecting to see. Certainly not this perfectly formed being. I- I half expected it to cry out … And as it lay there, so quiet, so still, it quite touched me. And I started praying or something, saying things like, uh, “God help me,” and, uh, things like that. And then I started to cry. The tears were running down my face. Oh, slowly, like I was a kid myself … Y’know, it don’t half bring it home to you what you are when you see a helpless little thing like that lying in your own hands. He’d been quite perfect. And I thought to myself, “Y’know what, Alfie? Y’know what you’ve done? You murdered him.”
The pro-life message of the movie is undeniable. It’s also the reason that this film, considered a “classic” by many movie historians, is rarely, if ever, seen on network or cable television anymore.
This past weekend (11/5/04), Paramount Pictures released a stylish remake of Alfie starring Jude Law. Despite adhering to many aspects of the original, the abortion component has been emasculated in the new version. Instead of facing the gruesome realities of abortion, the title character confronts loneliness, alienation, and rejection. (Yawn.)
part of an interview with director Charles Shyer from “One Guy’s Opinion”:
Why now? “I think that Alfie, that kind of guy–starting with Casanova, I guess, or even further back, the guy who treats women [that way], whose whole thing is face, boobs, bum–that whole kind of guy is always going to be around, in some form or another,” Shyer explained in a recent Dallas interview. “And I saw a resurgence of this kind of misogynistic attitude towards women seeping back in. I know I’m in the wrong state to say this, but I think that the swing to the right hasn’t helped. I think we’re at a stage right now where, truthfully, if Roe Vs. Wade is overturned, we’re going to be back to the original ‘Alfie,’ where people were doing back-alley abortions…and I also think that music videos haven’t helped….I just thought all of that made a new visit of an ‘Alfie’ kind of pertinent.”
part of an interview with Jude Law at MovieWeb:
There’s a lot of sex in the film and contraceptives aren’t shown. Are you worried about the message that might send?
Jude Law: There’s no sex in the film. There’s not one sex scene in the film. That’s very true. Let’s be honest: s### happens. Does everyone out there who sleeps with seven different women wear condoms? This is the reality of an a###### like Alfie, right? And he gets someone pregnant and that’s serious. That’s not funny. That’s ####ing serious. That happens in today’s day and age and kids are born without knowing their parents or young women have to take a trip down to the abortion clinic. That’s a reality. We’re not making a movie about sugarcoating it all. The truth is that people don’t sometimes. In the heat of the moment, tanked up on Tequila, people don’t and that’s a reality and that’s why the film is what it is. It’s not trying to curb any corners.
Abortion is an issue in the film. Talk about how you approached it.
Jude Law: What’s interesting is how several moments, several beats occur in this story. I never know whether if it was done on purpose or not, but goes straight back to the original. One is the abortion, because it’s one of the first reality checks. He’s got very thick skin this guy or very thick blinkers. It’s like a cold shower, a real reminder. You’re into this world of Alfie and you think, how long is this going to go on? You’re kind of suckered along by it, even though you know that he’s doing terrible things. The awful truth is he feels he kind of got away with it, which is why it’s so well placed.