Alfie Review

Nov 05, 2004 | 11:56am EST

"I subscribe to the European philosophy my priorities leaning toward wine women and--well actually that's it wine and women. Although women and women is always a fun option." These words of wisdom come from one Alfie Elkins (Jude Law)--a handsome dashing young Brit who has women all over Manhattan sighing his name. Some of those women include in no particular order: a bored housewife (Jane Krakowski) a single mom (Marisa Tomei) a manic depressive (Sienna Miller) a classy older woman (Susan Sarandon) and even his best friend's girlfriend (Nia Long). As Alfie waxes philosophical into the camera about his sexual conquests giving the audience a birds-eye view one wonders if any of this non-committal freewheeling lifestyle truly makes him happy. Maybe at first. But soon the charming lothario finds he has "small cracks in [his] faux finish" as the consequences of his actions begin to mount forcing him to re-evaluate his whole modus operandi. What's it all about indeed.

Alfie's engaging cast of eye candy lead by the beguiling Jude Law certainly help make up for whatever is lacking in the story department. Law easily slips into the Alfie character like a well-worn glove with the disarming smile and oozing charisma. What Law does differently than the original's Michael Caine however is give Alfie sensitivity--even dare I say a heart. The equally dashing Caine played the part fairly aloof but Law whose own obvious warmth can't help but shine through is a far more multifaceted and complicated Alfie--which of course makes him even more irresistible. Please. Even after witnessing his caddish behavior and hearing his innermost thoughts about the women he beds I'd say more the half the female moviegoers would still fall for Law's Alfie in a heartbeat. As far as the women in the film they all add something different and unique--from Tomei's spunkiness to Miller's wounded soul to Sarandon's sophistication--and all seem to have great chemistry with their heartthrob leading man (especially Miller who is Law's real-life love these days). Ah wouldn't we all like the chance?

The 1966 original was considered risqué and controversial for its time. A man who sleeps with a bevy of women without any regards for their feelings casting them aside when he's done certainly wasn't what society was used to in a leading man in the '60s. Nowadays however it's kind of old-hat leaving the updated Alfie antiquated in a way. Director Charles Shyer (Father of the Bride) does what he can to accessorize by beautifully framing his star cast incorporating some fancy camerawork and infusing the proceedings with a rocking soundtrack especially with original songs from Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart. But ultimately Alfie isn't nearly as thought provoking as it desperately wants to be. By using the original's technique of having Alfie break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience expounding on his every move the film tries to draw you in but ends up annoying you more than anything else. Yes we all know womanizing can be cruel and ultimately unfulfilling but Alfie lives in the 21st century for god's sake; he just needs shut his trap and do something about it already.

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