Alfie (15)

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The View Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/10/2004

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Not so much, “What’s it all about?” as “Why bother?” – this is stylishly directed and well acted but as pointless remakes go, Alfie is up there with Stallone’s version of Get Carter.

The original version of Alfie was very much a film of its time – nominated for five Oscars, it was the most talked-about film of 1966 and it also launched Michael Caine as an international star.

Is This Really Necessary?

However, the issues that made the film so controversial in 1966 seem very tame today, so exactly why Hollywood has chosen to remake it is something of a mystery. Did we really need an Alfie for the Noughties?

Jude Law plays Alfie Elkins, a sharp-suited, scooter-riding Brit transplanted to New York, where he works as a limo driver and frequently services his rich female clients on the back seat. In addition, he also has several women on the go at once, including: single parent “girlfriend” Marisa Tomei; his best friend’s ex-girlfriend (Nia Long), with whom he has a one-night stand with unfortunate consequences; sexy, sophisticated older woman Susan Sarandon and bonkers headcase Sienna Miller, who got together with Law during filming and whose topless zucchini-chopping scene is the highlight of the film.

The plot is minimal at best: Alfie has a minor health scare (the scene with the camp German penis doctor is excruciatingly bad), falls out with his best friend (Omar Epps) and eventually ends up questioning his lifestyle, but he doesn’t get much of a come-uppance. As such, the film has none of the impact of the original film – even the abortion sequence (shocking in its day and filmed quite brutally in 1966) is curiously muted here and, worse, is later counter-acted in favour of a lame plot twist.

Undeniably Well Made

That said, it’s an undeniably well made film. There’s a glossy sheen to the cinematography and director Charles Shyer pulls off a convincingly retro look, despite the modern day setting. It also has a good soundtrack, featuring three original songs composed for the film by Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart, although none of them are likely to achieve the same fame as the Burt Bacharach original.

Michael Caine’s shoes are tough to fill, but Jude Law does a surprisingly good job. He’s both charismatic and likeable, the epitome of the “charming bastard” type. The problem is that he’s never actually sympathetic - frankly the film could have been improved simply by having Omar Epps punch him in the face.

The supporting cast are also excellent, particularly Susan Sarandon (making the most of her part as the one character who gives Alfie a taste of his own medicine) and Sienna Miller, but also Jane Krakowski (from Ally McBeal) as Dorie, one of Alfie’s limo backseat regulars.

To sum up then, the film isn’t actually bad and is certainly never less than watchable – it’s just that it misses the opportunity to say anything worthwhile or interesting and as a result, emerges as a pointless exercise in style over substance.

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Alfie (15)
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Content updated: 26/09/2015 08:28

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