No one left to scandalize

This year’s remake of “Alfie” can’t account for 38 years of sexual history

Claire Joseph

What shocked film audiences in 1966 isn’t all that surprising today.

In his remake of Lewis Gilbert’s 1966 film, “Alfie,” director Charles Shyer brings back to life the character of Alfie, a womanizing heartthrob who never has problems attracting the opposite sex.

The original “Alfie” portrays Alfie (Michael Caine) as a promiscuous guy who generally means well, but who can’t seem to get things right. Because of his womanizing ways, pregnancies are sure to arise. The film deals with the concept of abortion, a controversial idea that most films in 1966 wouldn’t have dared to address. The original film works because of its strong story line and illuminating dialogue. 

In this modern “Alfie,” just as in the original, Alfie (the young Michael Caine look-alike Jude Law) acts as a narrator, often speaking directly to the audience about his immature behavior. However, the strong storyline and interesting dialogue have disappeared.

The cinema’s shock standards have changed since 1966. The new “Alfie” drops most of the controversy of abortion and sticks with the controversy of womanizing. But, in today’s films, promiscuity and loneliness in men are the least of a woman’s problems.

With no update of the original’s shock and controversy, the current “Alfie” comes off as predictable and dated. When Alfie impregnates his best friend’s girlfriend, for example, the event isn’t big enough, or implausible enough, to be shocking.

After his girlfriend (Marisa Tomei) breaks up with him because of his infidelity, Alfie continues his oversexed lifestyle, hooking up with, and running away from, woman after woman.

After realizing that he is a father, Alfie begins to figure out that his lifestyle bears consequences and satisfies nothing more than his basic sexual desires. Alfie sees that he has no real friends and that no one seems to care about him.

Like the characters in this stereotypical film, we lose interest in Alfie, and, consequently, in the film itself.

The film never surpasses its cliches. An older, wiser character spits out lines like “think before you unzip,” though already-struggling “Alfie” receives no help from its script.

In Alfie’s long-winded, self-assured speeches, often obscured by his motorcycle’s revving, he hopes that his bad behavior will seem funny. But instead, we just hope the buzz of the motorcycle, along with the film, will end.