10 Great Movies For Men, Part 4
Swap Michael Caine For Jude Law and Swap The London of The Swinging Sixties For The Manhattan Of The Late 1990s
..and you get a decent remake of 1966’s Alfie.
Jude Law is Alfie, a limosine chauffeur by trade and ladies’ man by passion. Living the bachelor lifestyle in the big apple Alfie uses his day job to save money in order to start his own limosine rental company together with Marlon, his best friend. Lady-wise Alfie runs several affairs simultanously, one of them with a single mom and, apart from the occasional nightlife hook-up, two other steady affairs with neclected housewives.
All is going smooth and sexy until Alfie drunkenly hooks up with Lonette, Marlon’s girlfriend. This not only currupts the friendship with the unsuspecting Marlon, Alfie also managed to father a child with Lonette, all from spending one alcohol-induced night together.
Here comes Alfie, another episode in the series of 10 Great Movies for Men.
A Promising Start
…is what the movie starts off with. Alfie basically lives every bachelor’s dream: A nice centrally located apartment in the heart of Manhattan, an easy-going job that does not include a chair, desk or computer screen and the chance to meet, well, ‘interesting women while you are on the clock. Sound good so far? You bet it does.
The color comes off
Things are shining in a different light if you take a closer look at the actual women that Alfie spends more than one night with. Here, the character of Alfie somehow lives an unconvincing double-life of being a smooth talker and ladies’ man on the one hand
while hooking up exclusively with women who resemble the bottom of the barrel in the sexual hierarchy on the other. One has to give Alfie credit, though, as he uses his ongoing téte-a-téte with Susan Sarrandon’s character for his own benefit: he tries to pitch her and her influental friends the business plan for his limosine company. But having the smooth-as-silk Alfie hook-up with one 58-year-old woman after the other? Give me a break.
The sexual hierarchy is upside down
Yet weird combinations like this one run through the movie like a thread. Take, for instance, Alfie’s other affair with a single mother. In one scene he plans to swing by her place after a hard day’s work, looking to empty her fridge and then slumber there like a baby (which he doesn’t as his affair finds another girl’s panties in the trash and thus kicks Alfie out). Now, what is this? The Vespa-riding bachelor king of Manhattan living at the expense of an aging single mom, because he just doesn’t like cooking for himself? Seriously, give me a break.
A plot hole the size of a vulcano
What really takes the cake is when Alfie betrays his only real friend Marlon by having an alcohol-inspired encounter with his girlfriend. Not only is this an absurd scenario in regard to Alfie’s abundance mentality, but it is also stands in sharp contradiction to his character. Alfie is portrayed as cheeky and street-smart, yet he is not portrayed as being of low moral or seeking foul thrills by sleeping with his best friend’s about-to-be wife.
The icing on what now reveals itself as a hidden agenda of the movie is when the one-time encounter between Alfie and Marlon’s girlfriend Lunette ends up with Alfie getting Lunette pregnant. Another over-the-top coincident that is, again, in stark contrast to a supposed ‘real life Alfie’. When Paul Janka called New York City a ‘playground for men’ then his movie-counterpart making every rookie mistake in the book looks more like a farce than an even remotely credible storyline.
Moral of the story:
After Alfie is told about him fathering Lunette’s child, he promises to change his lifestyle and take responsibility for his child. Lunette crushes him by hinting at his lifestyle of irresponsibility: “What are you gonna do, Alfie?” Shortly hereafter he is cut loose from all his other affairs as well. What is completely swept under the rug is that it takes one to know one. Alfie’s lifestyle of promiscuity is only possible, because there are women who live the lifestyle of promiscuity. The one presupposes the other. And you can rest assured that Alfie never was the only simultanous affair of any of the affairs he had. This aspect, however, is not covered with a single word.
While female promiscuity is not covered with a single word, the movie has a definite take on male promiscuity: male promiscuity will eventually end up in despair as the last scene shows an Alfie who literally has nowhere else to go. It is pretty safe to say that the Alfie of 2004 comes with a slight portion of anti-male propaganda.