Typically, remakes emerging after a predecessor are compared to their original counterpart: New Coke bombed after years of Classic Coke, but Terminator 2 beats the original Terminator hands down. After collecting 38 years of studio backlot dust, Alfie — a movie about a philosophical womanizer on the brink of an epiphany regarding his shallow bed-hopping and girl-swapping ways — is reintroduced to audiences.
Played by Jude Law, Alfie’s life is composed of spontaneous and frequent sexual romps. The escapades are both an exercise in conquest and means of nourishment, as the young charmer bounces from dinner tables to pocket books, all while avoiding the dreariness of his own apartment. His weekly agendas center specifically on the ending of one meaningless relationship and the hope of starting another equally hollow association. Though Alfie never attempts to forge serious connections with anyone, his actions ultimately affect everyone.
The 2004 release pays homage to the 1966 original through verbatim quotations and echoing situations. The new picture has twisted the outcomes of Alfie’s episodes to mirror four decades’ worth of social change and to throw a few curveballs to viewers familiar with Michael Caine’s Alfie.
The skillful and sometimes tearful performances of Susan Sarandon and Nia Long are arguments for why the 2004 release outweighs the 1966 classic but, ultimately, those “for” yield to the arguments “against.” It’s no secret that Law’s portrayal is fueled more by sex appeal than clear-cut egotism: Law’s striking profile serves as proof. As a result, viewers tend to focus on both the faults of Alfie and the women he is involved with, leading the movie’s conclusion to be abrupt and unsatisfying. Speaking of unsatisfying, screenplay modifications such as Alfie’s libido-linked medical condition add some ill-timed hilarity to the story’s progression, but other changes crush the overall impact. What Caine’s Alfie is forced to face with his friend’s best gal in 1966 is far more impressionable than what Law’s Alfie deals with in 2004.
Overall, the film fails to stand up to the previous release; however, it is extremely likely that with nearly 40 years of displacement, audience members will probably not have a point of reference. In this sense, Alfie (2004) is not an entirely objectionable film. Girls will be pleased, and guys will likely relish some delayed satisfaction if they are careful to take notes. However, after carefully studying the mannerisms of the ultimate ladykiller for one and a half hours, I was left with one burning question: If women really are into miniature modes of foreign transportation (Alfie’s Vespa has become the center of an erratic online giveaway), why isn’t my ’91 Camry reeling in the chicks?
Drama, R, Running time: 100 min.
The Battalion, Texas A&M University