(new jude law one)

I think I’ve seen Alfie in every decade except the original one. And I think you needed to see it then. Some films are time specific like that. Besides, pop culture phenomenon aside, it just wasn’t a fabulous movie. So why did I see it so often? I liked Michael Caine so much that it kept seeming like it should be better than I remembered it. Then I’d see it again and say so what and leave it alone for another ten years.

When I heard they were doing a remake, I did the same take that the filmmakers and potential audience did - Jude Law and Alfie, what a spot-on fit that pairing is! I didn’t see it when it came out in the theatre, but was aware that audience response to it was really low. I just figured that was probably because the story wasn’t good enough or timely enough to remake.

I was right and wrong. See I think that, like me, everyone forgets that this is a pretty tepid piece of material. But having said that, this is

Jude Law makes Alfie a slightly nicer guy (Caine’s Alfie was a misogynist or at least hostile enough under the surface to appear that way). Law’s Alfie can’t help or even recognize his narcissism, but he genuinely appreciates his women, albeit short term.

As a actor/role pairing, Alfie and Jude Law are as wonderful a fit as you could hope for. Somewhere in this simple story, Law finds a humanity that allowed me to connect more with him and his acting than I ever have before. Law handles all his vocal-asides-to-audience dialogue wonderfully. I was always much more conscious of Caine doing it back when, but it feels refreshing Jude-style.

All Alfie’s women are wonderful, each one unique, talented and more beautiful than the next. The photography was wonderful, the score was absolutely fantastic!, and all the updates in story and detail were necessary for these times and ultimately, for me, made

Two quibbles with the above. Writer/director Shyer had to have looked at the film’s Achilles Heel - it is fascinating and uptempo for the first quarter and disillusioning for the next three quarters. Granted, it is the way the story unfolds, but not exactly a recipe for a crowd favorite! But Shyer seems to err in the wrong direction, slowing the pace down further and further, so that the last scene doesn’t feel so much like an ending as a total loss of momentum. No ‘the end’ - just that the wheels have stopped turning. They may have even fallen off the cart.

This pales in comparison to the larger transgression. This is a film that shouldn’t have been made at all. Alfie is a story that relies on being a roadmap of the times and though people are looking at commitments and love, they don’t appear to be looking at them in a way that this movie synchs up with.

Like I started out saying, Alfie is a time-specific movie. This isn’t the time.

Copyright © 2006 CTarr