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Derrick Dunn

Fatal Attraction is a serviceable remake of the classic film

An iconic eighties film receives a remake in the episodic television series Fatal Attraction from Paramount+. Taking inspiration from the same-titled Michael Douglas/Glenn Close box office smash, the series comes from Alexandra Cunningham and Kevin J. Hynes.


Dan Gallagher (Joshua Jackson), a successful attorney, resides in a magnificent countryside home in California with his wife, Beth (Amanda Peet), and daughter Ellen. His life appears to be flawless, but unforeseen events can occur. He encounters Alex Forrest (Lizzy Caplan), a charming victims advocate, and feels an immediate attraction. Despite his initial hesitations, Dan eventually succumbs to his passion for her after several innocent encounters. However, if you’ve seen the film, you know the passionate affair takes a volatile and dangerous turn when Alex refuses to allow the married Dan put an end to it.


James Dearden, the original screenwriter of the 1987 film, based it on his 1980 short film Diversion. We have all seen the numerous rehash of Fatal Attraction on Lifetime, late-night skinamax, and other movies. However, this version begins unexpectedly. It starts after the end of the story we know and saw in the cinema in the eighties after Alex’s demise. Dan is an aged, tired man with a long beard who is fifteen years into a jail sentence. Now it’s time to face a jury for parole, and he wants to explain why he killed his scorned lover.


Ellen (Alyssa Jirrels) is now grown up and a psychology student in her therapy. At the same time, Beth is remarried and has moved on. From the opening moments of the first episode, the creators may be giving us a take on the original film’s alternate ending.


Beth finds a tape that Alex sent Dan in which she threatens to kill herself after police take her husband away. To make it appear that Dan had murdered her, Alex was initially scripted to slash her throat with the knife Dan left on the counter. When Beth realizes Alex’s intentions, she takes the tape to the police, who clear Dan. Flashbacks show Alex slitting her throat while listening to Madame Butterfly before she took her own life. If I know reverse chronology, I think that’s the angle they are shooting for. 


The biggest question is how do Jackson and Caplan measure up to Michael Douglas and Glenn Close? That will depend if you can separate the two. Jackson, who became famous in The Mighty Ducks trilogy before transitioning to teen idol status in Dawson Creek, solidified his legitimate position a while ago. He portrays Dan as someone who means well but decides to give in to temptation.


Lizzy Caplan, on the other hand, is fantastic. She possesses a captivating magnetism, a mysterious allure that requires no pomp or grandstanding. Her gray-green eyes are entrancing, and her enigmatic smile prompts speculation and wonder. Clad in a black leather jacket, she exudes an effortlessly attractive sex appeal. This is evident in her standout performance of Alex Vs. the original portrayal of Glenn Close; her interpretation brings out more facets of affection, heartache, and depth when delivered through Lizzy Caplan’s lens.


Although many people view Fatal Attraction as a feminist movie gone wrong, the characters are more complex than that. Let’s consider the male characters, who serve mainly as supporters of Dan and disappear when the action slows down. The real focus is on the female characters intimately involved in Dan’s ongoing affair and feeling the effects of his breakup. Through their perspectives, we see how Dan’s actions have impacted multiple women and even affected his work performance. However, these female characters also offer objective insights that hold Dan accountable for his actions, revealing that he is far from innocent.


While it won’t top the source material, Fatal Attraction is still worth a look.


Final Grade: B


Fatal Attraction runs every Sunday until June 4th on Paramount+.

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