What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Alfie is about a smooth operator who takes pride in using women sexually and then quickly discarding them. There are many, many scenes that are insulting to women and send negative messages about how to treat them. In addition to the messages about women, characters smoke, drink, and make awful decisions when drunk that they later blame on the alcohol. They also cheat on boyfriends and spouses, and one character gets pregnant and considers an abortion. There is some profanity, including one F-word and a few S-words; plus many coarse jokes. Sexual scenes are plentiful, though mostly discreet, though one scene includes a topless woman who walks around in underwear.
What's the story?
In this remake of the 1966 Michael Caine classic, Alfie (Jude Law) is a British womanizer living in New York. Unable to commit to one woman, he breaks a lot of hearts. But then one of his lovers gets pregnant, and he appears to question his life.
Is it any good?
This film's value as entertainment and illumination is uneven at best. Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers used to be married, and they used to make movies together (Baby Boom, the remakes of Father of the Bride and The Parent Trap). Now they're divorced, and they make movies separately. Hers: the very successful What Women Want and Something's Gotta Give; his: the less successful The Affair of the Necklace and now ALFIE. The two of them seem to be working through something, as both of their recent films were about the exact same thing -- the comeuppance of what we used to call a cad. This film may have had some therapeutic value for its director.
The performances are all top-notch. Each of the women creates a full and complex character, especially Nia Long as the woman Alfie's best friend loves, Susan Sarandon as an older woman as predatory as he is, Marisa Tomei as a single mom, and Sienna Miller as a beauty whose instability is at first a turn-on and then a turn-off. The film's primary and very significant asset is Law, who's brilliant in the title role. He has to make us almost as charmed by Alfie as the women he goes after, even while he is confiding in us what he is really thinking. Very few actors can make an unsympathetic character so appealing or pull off a role that involves speaking directly to the audience, and Law is constantly ingratiating, fascinating, and even touching. That is less true, however, of the rest of the film. The movie feels as empty as Alfie's heart.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Alfie through time. Have you seen the original Alfie? How have our reactions to womanizing and drinking changed over time, if at all?
Do you think Alfie is a positive role model? Can someone be a role model if they make mistakes and then learn from them?