Released: 16th July
Seen: 27th July
From the writer director who brought us Secret Obsession and no less than 19 movies with the title The Wrong (Noun) comes the newest Netflix movie to make me worry about that company’s idea of quality control. Every time there’s some weird looking Netflix original that was clearly rejected by everyone else, I just wonder why Netflix is doing this. It’s not like they don’t know what good movies look like, they funded The Irishman when no one else would and took chances on great films like Roma, Klaus and The Two Popes. They have the ability to be picky and only buy the good projects, instead of buying another dud like Fatal Affair.
Fatal Affair focuses on the marriage between Ellie Warren (Nia Long) and Marcus Warren (Stephen Bishop). It’s a marriage that’s been somewhat unfulfilling for Ellie and she ends up going out for drinks with a former college classmate named David Hammond (Omar Epps). In a drunken moment of desperation she almost has sex with him, as in she undoes his pants before realising she doesn’t want to cheat on her husband and goes home. This somehow triggers an angry bout of jealousy from David, who will not be ignored, and begins a long cat and mouse game that will either end with Ellie admitting she wants to be with David or with David doing a whole bunch of murder.
…so this is Fatal Attraction. This movie is, almost beat for beat, a direct ripoff of Fatal Attraction. If you take Fatal Attraction and change the genders of the main characters, make the entire film look like it was shot by first time amateurs and remove all the memorable dialogue or performance choices then voila, you have Fatal Affair. I mean, the theft is so blatant they even stole the first word of the title like some kind of demented calling card. The thing is that Fatal Attraction is a memorable film that is enjoyable to watch with a performance that should’ve put an Oscar in Glenn Close’s hands. Fatal Affair exists and does literally nothing else other than that.
This is another in the growing list of “Films that were obviously made for Lifetime and intended to be aired at 3:25 on a Tuesday between reruns of Grey’s Anatomy” that Netflix seems to have made and it contains all of the trappings that comes with that growing list of films. Everything just looks pedestrian at best, in some cases the shots and editing are just flat out bad. The editing actually hits its worst moments during the final sequence of the film where they’re clearly trying to build some kind of tension and fear but everything is so bland that it barely even makes you want to take the deep breath needed to gasp in shock. There are shots of people with their throats slit in this film and it takes a while for it to sink in “Oh, I’m looking at another victim of the bad person” because it’s that poorly framed and the acting is that basic.
It really hurts to say the acting in this is bad because the actors themselves are genuinely great, just not in this. In this they range between so bland that it’s hard to even remember that they’re on screen while they’re performing because they blend into the furniture OR clearly trying to do something over the top but not willing to quite go all the way. I felt this move with Omar Epps who I know for a fact is a great actor, I loved him in House like most people did, but he just isn’t going far enough with his evil character. He’s got the Glenn Close role, he has the obsessive stalker who will do anything to get to the woman he desires but he’s just not even trying. It should say everything that I can vividly remember minute details on Glenn Close’s face during several scenes of Fatal Attraction, a movie I hadn’t seen in years, meanwhile I finished watching Fatal Affair about 20 minutes before writing this paragraph and I couldn’t tell you a goddamn thing that Omar’s character did that was in any way intimidating, except maybe one scene where he seemingly lacked peripheral vision because he couldn’t see the target of his affection sitting on the floor right next to him.
There’s not even a particularly memorable sequence in this film, not even the ending which should be when the bad person gets their comeuppance or ends up victorious. I should have some kind of catharsis by seeing this bad person who I’ve been watching for an hour and a half get the shit kicked out of them but that’s not what this film offers. It barely even feels like there was an actual emotional conclusion, the film just kind of says “Well, time for this character to go” and then someone goes and the movie ends because the film decided it was done. Hell, the film’s so forgettable that I couldn’t even tell you who some of the side characters were or what they did because they don’t end up mattering in the long run.
Fatal Affair is just another case of this writer/director not being able to do something beyond a forgettable TV movie, which is to be expected considering that over the past 20 years he’s written 90 movies… that’s bordering on porno levels of output, with just as much quality control. This movie is basically a write off and until this writer/director actually takes a little time to put some actual effort in, I can’t see how anything they have their name on is going to be anything above mediocre.