I’ll admit I came back a bit to my old habit of room wandering when I watched this, so I’m not going to be perfect at reviewing it, but I certainly got enough of the details, ideas and events that I “got” the film.
I picked it up simply because I thought, oh, hey, they felt they could remake this (they did in 2004 with Jude Law in the title role), the reviews are good and Michael Caine stars! Wa-hey!
I’m not drawn to comedies (it’s debated whether this is a comedy or not, but nevermind that) from the 60s, or much of anything other than the “big” and “important” films of that decade, so this one has been sitting around a relative bit of time in my collection. It also was not holding my interest enough to keep me centered as I already mentioned. Still, it did well enough, and certainly ended up surprising me. I was intrigued by the start of the movie, where Alfie suddenly turns and speaks to the audience as an aside, and says his name is–and the woman he’s with says “Alfie!” as the title flashes onscreen. He tells us the titles are, in fact, not going to be shown now as we expect, and onward the movie goes, trundling back and forth between Alfie’s “advice” and the dramatic events of the story.
Essentially, imagine any negative consequences and possibilities to occur from having a womanizing central character with more interest in himself than those around him, and they’re here. He abandons one woman who has mothered his child, despite his obvious affection for the child, because he simply cannot commit to anyone. In a later relationship there is an abortion. He’s controlling, manipulative, self-centered and unloving. He’s a little tragic, too, though, as you can see how lonely he is, and how he has so convinced himself that his freewheeling sex-life is the way to be happy, that he refuses to see how unhappy he, himself is. A great performance by Caine, one that helps us to appreciate Alfie, even as we’re utterly disgusted by almost everything he does. Shame, though, that the movie ambles along without any real spice to it–there’s just not much here of interest in the way it’s all put together.