It's about Alfie
There are two kinds of movies being released this year -- the ones with Jude Law and the ones without him. With six films coming out around the same time, the busy British actor runs the risk of being overexposed. However, if anyone can overcome that situation, it’s Law. His physical appeal, versatility and charisma should stand him in good stead as he charms his fans with appearances in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, I Heart Huckabees, Closer, The Aviator, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (doing the narration) and Alfie, the subject of this review.
As my husband pointed out, people who haven’t seen Michael Caine as Alfie (1966) will surely enjoy Law’s performance as the hedonistic womanizer more than those who have. There are certain roles which one particular actor owns -- even seems born to play -- and Alfie Elkins belongs to Caine in the same way Captain Jack Sparrow belongs to Johnny Depp. Nevertheless, Law seems undaunted as he lends Alfie a more sympathetic persona, and he has a ball talking to the camera about Alfie’s philosophy and his women.
“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,” Alfie tells the audience. And what marvelous women fall under his spell! There’s a beautiful neglected wife (Jane Krakowski), a lovely single mom (Marissa Tomei), his best friend’s fiancé (Nia Long), a gorgeous party girl (Sienna Miller) and a voluptuous cosmetic executive (Susan Sarandon).
In this version, Alfie’s hunting ground has been changed from London to Manhattan, which gives the film a more sophisticated look. “When it comes to shagging birds, it’s all about location, location, location,” declares the transplanted Londoner, who thinks New York City has the world’s most beautiful women.
Now we all know what goes around comes around, so it’s no surprise when Alfie gets his comeuppance -- and from the sexy older woman played by Sarandon, who’s back in Bull Durham form here. “I like how tough this broad is,” says Sarandon about her character in the film. “She finally dishes out to Alfie what he’s been dishing out to women for years.”
This Alfie comes across with a much lighter touch than the original. Granted, it includes some poignant moments when our hero discovers the consequences of his selfish behavior, but it fails to depict the depths of despair so evident in the endearing and exasperating Cockney character Caine portrayed.
Commenting on his interpretation of Alfie, Law explains, “Actually Alfie is more multifaceted than one would think. He’s really quite a thoughtful fellow when you think about it, and he is trying to change his wayward ways.”
Will Law’s Alfie ever find someone to love -- and live every day as though it’s his last? Guess we’ll have to wait for a sequel to find out.
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “R” for sexual content, some language and drug use.)