Alfie is one of those “let’s re-do something, that was unique a few decades back” remakes. Unfortunately, the people behind this film failed to understand why the original Alfie (1966) was the unique hit, that put Michael Caine on the map. It wasn’t about him being the womanizing Brit, who can seduce pretty much anybody he wants. It was about that lifestyle, and consequences of that lifestyle (yes, that one scene), that didn’t shy away from talking about difficult issues, back in 1966!
Let’s take a look what these films have in common – objectively good looking English man, who’s playing the game, just so he gets “beaten” in the same game at the very end, learning (or maybe not) his lesson during it. Both Michal Caine and Jude Law are stylish, suave, and you believe them that they can pretty much get anybody who they demand. But, that’s where the similarities end.
This remake did something, that puzzled me – it took out any sense of risk, or “danger” the original had going for it. Let me explain – both movies have a subplot about Alfie possibly being sick with some sort of STD. The original spends quite a big part of that movie on this, and you actually are worried about Alfie, as everything seems dark for him. He’s in very bad place and you trust him that. Whereas this movie deals with this subplot in about 10 minutes, or what felt like 10 minutes, where it seemed like Jude Law isn’t even that bothered by that. It’s almost like this movie wanted to have all the “fun, glittery” bits of the original without any of the reality bits part of it. Which defeats the point of the movie. I do need to get into the spoilers for both this remake and the original film, so…
Beware, SPOILERS are coming!
The main thing about the original was the abortion scene. No matter where you stand on this issue, it will make you truly uncomfortable, as it is meant to do that. That is why the original made such a big mark on everybody, especially in the late 60’s! And this remake tried to do the same, except since it’s now taking place in America (oh yeah, in this remake, Alfie is a Brit who lives in New York, for reasons?) I guess the filmmakers felt like the audience was not ready to have that conversation (even though it was in 2004) so they make you believe it happens, just to undo it, and have a surprise “Alfie’s got a daughter” scene. Which is not really a surprise. And that totally undercuts anything this might have had going for it. I am not saying since this is a remake, everything needs to be exactly the same, no. It’s great when remakes try to do things differently. But maybe don’t change the most impactful part of the original movie? It’s like remaking Star Wars and instead of Darth Vader being Luke’s father, it would have been his great-uncle he’s never met and isn’t really important to the overall story.
To me, this Alfie is personification (or filmonification… that’s definitely a word, right?) of “having your cake and eating it too” movie, where they remake something, that used to be almost revolutionary, take the flashy, sexy bits, and leave everything of substance on the floor. And that is a shame, as this cast (already mentioned Jude Law, Marisa Tomei, Omar Epps, Nia Long, Susan Sarandon and Sienna Miller) is definitely deserving of a better movie. But I do need to say, especially Sienna Miller really did something here, as I don’t think I have seen her be as great, especially considering the limited time she had in this movie.
Overall, if you are looking for an easy watch, where you don’t have to think too much, you don’t want to worry about anything and watch couple of sexy people live their best and sometimes worst lives, Alfie might be for you. But if you are looking for something, that will stay with you for some time, even though it might make you feel uneasy, I would highly recommend the original version.
That’s all for this one! Did you see it? What did you think about it? Let me know!
Until next time,