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Monday, February 06, 2012

Having An Affair? Fatal Attraction Delivers!

I think it’s a safe assumption to state that for most of us, we have only the best of intentions when it comes to the idea of getting married.

So many people I have spoken to over the years have had almost idyllic views of what they believe marriage is all about.  They fall in love with the man or woman of their dreams, have a lavish marriage in an old-fashioned church, a fancy reception in the middle of a huge banquet hall, a honeymoon filled with romance and passion, and then from there, they live the next sixty years happily ever after.
Certainly for many of us, we all have those dreams of having a marriage that is as perfect as perfect should be (keeping in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect marriage).  And, in a lot of cases, people manage to have happy, stable, loving marriages for many, many years.

So, why is it that in a given year of new marriages, half of them end up in divorce?

Truth be told, there’s a number of reasons why this might be the case.  Sometimes, couples try everything they can to make their marriage work, but it just falls apart.  In some cases, a marriage can split up because of job pressures.  Sometimes, the couple just aren’t ready to handle the responsibility of marriage.  And, I’m sure that in many marriages - especially ones based in Hollywood – the term “irreconcilable differences” says it all.

However, it seems to me, just based on actual couples that I know who have split up, that one cause seems to be near the top five reasons why marriages break up.

When one (or both) people in the marriage have an affair!

Yes, the dreaded affair.  I’m sure we all have known someone in our lives who have kicked their partner to the curb after it is discovered that they have been cheating on them with somebody else.  It could be a nanny, a neighbour, a spouse’s friend, or even a family member of a spouse! 
And the thing with affairs is that sooner or later, the truth does come out.  And, I’m not just talking about soap operas and prime-time dramas either...when affairs are exposed in the real world, they can get really ugly.  All you need to do is Google the name “Betty Broderick” as a reminder of how affairs can sometimes be deadly.

I mean, while we’re on the subject of affairs, I’ll never quite understand why so many men and women feel a need to cheat on their spouses.  I mean, if the marriage is so terrible, then why would you stay married in the first place?  I suppose allowances could be made if the marriage was abusive, and the person embarked on an affair with somebody who was a lot more respectful to them than their own spouse.   But, for the most part, I just don’t understand it.  It almost seems as if the idea of marriage is being made somewhat of a mockery because so many people feel that it’s okay to cheat whenever they feel like it.  Believe it or not, there’s actually a website that goes by the name “Ashley Madison” that ENCOURAGES married people to have affairs on the side.  I didn’t think it would be possible that a site like that could even exist, but apparently it does.  And, apparently, it’s very popular.

And, that fact kind of makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

I suppose that my having an opinion on affairs and marriages might not mean much, especially since I am currently an unmarried man.  But, I’d like to think that if I ever get lucky enough to find someone to become my wife, I would be totally committed to her, as well as the marriage that we have.  Isn’t that why we practice the wedding custom of exchanging vows?  I would hope that the vows I take would hold up as long as we both shall live, as I’m sure that most people who get married do.  Unfortunately for some, those vows for whatever reason are broken (or worse, not taken very seriously), and the marriage fails. 
But if you’re one of those people who feel a need to cheat on your wife or husband because you aren’t satisfied in your own marriage, I really think that you should read this blog entry for today’s Monday Matinee.  It’s a movie about a man who is supposedly living the perfect life with a beautiful wife and child who decides to engage in a quickie affair with a business colleague while the rest of his family goes out of town.  It’s steamy, passionate, and basically a good time to be had for all.  But when the man realizes what a mistake it was, and realizes just how good he has it at home, he tries to break off the connection with his weekend fling.  But what happens when his weekend fling decides that a weekend isn’t good enough?  What happens when she loses her ever-loving mind, and goes out of her way to make sure that she gets her man, no matter who gets hurt in the process?

Why, one would likely call that a fatal attraction, wouldn’t you think?

As it so happens, today’s Monday Matinee is the 1987 film “Fatal Attraction”, starring Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer, in what I like to call the love triangle from hell.
As far as the critical reception for the film goes, it did very well.  It was the second highest grossing film of 1987, and it received six Academy Award nominations, including acting nominations for both Archer and Close.

TRIVIA:  According to a People Magazine book celebrating 1980s Pop Culture, Glenn Close reportedly lost 15 pounds prior to filming so she could achieve a ‘leaner, meaner look’ for the movie.
Our story begins in Manhattan, New York, where attorney Dan Gallagher (Douglas) lives with his wife, Beth (Archer) and daughter Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzen).  On the surface, it seems as though Dan has got the perfect life.  He and Beth seem happy to be together, as their daughter watches Christine and Vanessa get slimed on “You Can’t Do That On Television”.  Certainly within the first fifteen minutes of the movie, you’d never suspect that Dan would be the type who would do something foolish to screw things up, right?

Enter Alexandra Forrest (Close), better known as Alex. 
Alex certainly looked as if she could turn heads back in the late 1980s.  With her big, curly hair, designer clothes, and a figure that most women would kill to have, it didn’t take long for Alex to get Dan’s attention.  Alex works as an editor for a publishing company in New York, and as it turns out, they end up hitting it off at a party.  They get to talking, and find that they enjoy each other’s company.  And when Beth and Ellen go out of town for a weekend, Dan decides to give in to temptation, and has a passionate affair with Alex.  I’m talking sex.  Passionate sex.  Thrusting around in a moving elevator sex.

And, no, I don’t have any clips to show you of this in action, because I’m pretty sure that they would be deleted from most video sharing sites.  But, take my word for it.  They’re quite steamy.

But it seems as though each person looked at the affair from different perspectives.  To Dan, it was just a little bit of fun, and was only meant to be a weekend fling.  He was fine with not letting his wife know about it, and was prepared to live life as if it didn’t even happen.  Alex, on the other hand, seemed to believe that this was the first couple of days of the rest of their lives.  Dan was the perfect man for her.  It didn’t matter to her if he were married or not.  She would have him.
So, Alex began to try and emotionally manipulate Dan by doing some rather...shall we say...insane things?  Check out this clip below...and warning, this clip really isn’t suitable for younger readers.

Yeah, that wasn’t disturbing at all. 

Needless to say, Alex’s little suicide attempt may have gotten Dan’s attention, but Dan was in no mood to play games.  He thought that after talking with Alex, and helping bandage up her wounds that it was all done and over with, but it wasn’t to be.  Alex started stalking him at work, calling his secretary numerous times.  She called his home at all hours of the day and night, hanging up whenever Beth answered the phone.  She even told Dan that their affair resulted in her becoming pregnant, and that he had to accept responsibility for their unborn child, causing Dan even more stress.

The final straw came when Alex arrives at Dan’s apartment (which has been put up for sale).  She tells Beth that she is interested in the property, and Beth happily introduces Dan to Alex, not having any sort of clue as to what had transpired between the two.  Of course, at that time, Beth had no reason to be suspicious, as to her, Alex seemed like a woman filled with charm and sophistication.  But Dan knew the danger beneath, and he had enough of it.  As you’ll see in this memorable clip from the movie, Dan means business...but then again, so does Alex.

Somehow, I think Dan ignoring Alex only scratched the surface of what really made Alex Forrest so deranged.  But, by this point, Dan had thought that the worst was over.  With the apartment being sold, Dan moved his family to a house located in the nearby town of Bedford, so he assumed that it would be the last that he would ever see of Alex Forrest.
He thought wrong.

His getting out of town only served to make Alex even crazier.  She sent him tape recorded messages oozing with verbal abuse, she pours acid all over his car inside a parking garage, and in a scene that likely made animal activists incredibly upset, Alex did the absolute unthinkable to little Ellen’s rabbit.  And, I must warn you, this scene is quite disturbing.

Have you ever wondered how the phrase ‘bunny-boiler’ came about?  After watching this clip, I’m sure you now have an idea.

And the death of Ellen’s rabbit was the catalyst towards Dan finally revealing the whole affair to his hurt and bewildered wife, Beth.  To say that she doesn’t take the news well at all is quite the understatement.  She’s absolutely furious with him (and she should be, for he was the one who caused this mess in the first place), and orders him out of the house for good. 
Of course, now that Dan has told Beth of the affair, there really was no stopping him.  By confessing all, he could not put a restraining order on Alex, and Alex really had nothing to hold against him anymore.  His only mistake was letting Alex know that he had told all.  It set off a chain of events that would lead to our film’s conclusion.
Without Beth or Dan knowing, Alex somehow manages to pick up Ellen from school (which you can tell this is an old movie, because schools nowadays almost require a person to show three pieces of identification to even set foot on a school playground), and takes her to an amusement park.  Meanwhile, a frantic Beth drives all over town, trying to find Ellen.  When Beth is injured in a car accident as a result of this, she is taken to hospital while Alex brings Ellen home. 

It doesn’t take long for Dan to put two and two together, and he drives over to Alex’s apartment to physically confront her over everything that had happened.  Alex tries to kill him by stabbing him with a knife, but Dan overpowers her.  He later contacts the police, who agree to bring her in should they find her, and Beth eventually forgives Dan for his indiscretions.

But, that’s not quite how the movie ends.  There’s one final scene that takes place that wraps everything up quite nicely.  But, while the scene is powerful and exciting to watch, I can’t post it because it will spoil the ending.  Though, if you really want to see it, it’s currently posted on YouTube.
TRIVIA:  The ending that the audiences watched was not the original ending.  Originally, Alex was supposed to kill herself, and make it look like Dan had killed her.  However, when this ending was screened at a test screening, audiences didn’t really like it.  The second ending was shot in a three week period after principal filming wrapped up.

So, let “Fatal Attraction” be a warning to all of you who feel a need to stray from a cozy marriage for a little bit of fun on the side.  As this movie clearly shows, you don’t really get to know the person that you’re cheating with until it’s too late.  Had Dan not gotten involved with Alex in the first place, then his life would not have been filled with so much fear and anxiety.  Of course, had Dan not gotten involved with Alex, she would have likely made someone else’s life a misery.  It’s a classic Catch 22 hypothetical scenario, no matter how you look at it.
It’s been 25 years since “Fatal Attraction” came out, and even now, it’s still socially relevant (well, aside from Glenn Close’s really bad 1980s perm).  Glenn Close admits that she still gets stopped on the street by people who have told her that she scared them.  She has even had men tell her that watching her on “Fatal Attraction” saved their marriage!  I guess that in their case, they may have been tempted to have a quickie on the side, but after seeing how crazy Alex was, they chose not to.  It probably was a wise move.

I mean, after watching “Fatal Attraction”, it certainly doesn’t make me see affairs in a romantic view (not that I did beforehand).  If anything, it kind of puts me off of even having one in the first place more than ever. 
I suppose looking at Alex through a more compassionate stance, you sort of feel a bit sorry for her.  All she wanted was to be loved.  Sure, the way she went about it was frightening and insane...but it had to be tough, loving someone that deep down she knew she couldn’t have, but was too blind to see it.  And, Dan probably didn’t help her mental stability much either by giving her false hope.

That said, if there was an Alex Forrest approaching me on the street, I’d probably try my best to cross it, no matter what colour the traffic signal is showing!

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