Flashback: Fatal Attraction

Years hence, it will be possible to pinpoint the exact moment that produced »Fatal Attraction,» Adrian Lyne’s new romantic thriller, and the precise circumstances that made it a hit. It arrived at the tail end of the having-it-all age, just before the impact of AIDS on movie morality was really felt. At the same time, it was a powerful cautionary tale. And it played skillfully upon a growing societal emphasis on marriage and family, shrewdly offering something for everyone: the desperation of an unmarried career woman, the recklessness of a supposedly satisfied husband, the worries of a betrayed wife. What’s more, it was made with the slick, seductive professionalism that was a hallmark of the day.

»Fatal Attraction,» which opens today at the Paramount and other theaters, is a thoroughly conventional thriller at heart, but its heart is not what will attract notice. As directed by Mr. Lyne, who also made »9 1/2 Weeks» and »Flashdance,» it has an ingeniously teasing style that overrules substance at every turn. Mr. Lyne, who displays a lot more range this time, takes a brilliantly manipulative approach to what might have been a humdrum subject and shapes a soap opera of exceptional power. Most of that power comes directly from visual imagery, for Mr. Lyne is well versed in making anything -- a person, a room, a pile of dishes in a kitchen sink -- seem tactile, rich and sexy.

— Janet Maslin, The New York Times


Fatal Attraction