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I'm not going to be IGNORED, Dan!—Alex Forrest
Fatal Attraction is a 1987 thriller about a married man named Dan Gallagher who cheats on his wife with a co-worker named Alex Forrest while his wife and child are away. Dan expects their affair to just be a one-night stand, but Alex, who is a bit on the unbalanced side, has other ideas.
Alex attempts suicide when Dan explains to her that he has to get back home and get on with his life. He tries to put the affair behind him, but Alex will not let go, and stalks Dan with the intent of getting him back, and as Dan continues to turn her down, Alex gets increasingly unhinged, reaching into his life and his family with devastating effect. It gets to the point where Dan and his family have to move, but Alex still won't leave them alone, continuing to stalk them, her obsession turning to hatred over time, culminating in a horrific scene which coined the phrase "bunny boiler." Dan, who originally wanted to keep the affair secret from his wife, now has to protect his family from a psychotic woman who is willing to do anything, even kill, in order to get her man.
Fatal Attraction was the top grossing movie of 1987, was nominated for an Academy Award, and became hugely popular both in the United States and internationally. Alex Forrest was cited as a notable film example of someone with borderline personality disorder and dependent personality disorder. The movie was also the cause of much discussion about marital infidelity (and the Double Standard gender politics involved in the Stalking Is Love trope) for a good while afterward.
This film contains examples of:
- All Men Are Perverts: If Dan had listened to his "big head" instead of his "little head" regarding Alex, none of this would have happened.
- Ax Crazy: Alex, although she doesn't seem like it at first.
- Blondes Are Evil: Again, Alex.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': And how. Many people saw what happened with Alex as "punishing" Dan for cheating on his wife.
- And conversely, another view has everything that happens to Alex as punishment for (a) daring to advance in a traditionally-male business world, (b) being happily single, successful, and independent at a time when most women her age (30-something) were expected to be married with children--it's hard not to notice the stark contrast between her and Dan's happy homemaker wife. Her extreme reaction is intended to discredit her advocacy of feminism, making this an entirely different kind of morality tale.
- Chekhov's Armoury: The final act of the film is rife with these:
- Alex follows Dan home, which plays into her later breaking into their house to kill their pet rabbit, and her kidnapping his daughter from her school. Even the breaking and entering plays into her showing up in their house in the film's final minutes.
- There's even a Chekhov's Knife--the butcher knife Alex nearly stabs Dan with during the confrontation in her apartment plays a large role in both endings. In the original, she uses it to kill herself in an attempt to frame Dan for murder (note the lingering close-up of Dan's hand on the blade handle as he places it on the counter), while in the new ending, Alex brings it to the house in her attempt to kill Beth.
- The wife fills a bathtub in preparation for a soak. Suffice it to say, it comes in handy during the final confrontation.
- And Chekhovs Words. Beth outright tells Alex that she'll kill her if Alex comes near her family again. Alex shows up. . .
- And the best example--we see a revolver in Dan's drawer. It is used in the end.
- Focus Group Ending: The original ending wasn't that well-liked (at least in America. A Japanese version exists with the original ending).
- Fridge Logic: The Mad parody points out that Alex, when she kidnaps Ellen, somehow manages to find an amusement park open during school days in the off-season.
- Karma Houdini: Alex in the original ending.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Alex.
- Mama Bear: Beth.
- Mirror Scare: When Beth clears the fog from the mirror, the mirror reveals Alex standing behind her, before the final confrontation.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Alex tries to do this in the end.
- Not Good with Rejection: Alex in regards to Dan. Big time.
- Retroactive Recognition: A 16-year-old Jane Krakowski is babysitting for the Gallaghers in the beginning of the film
- Sanity Slippage: The more Dan tries to distance himself from Alex, the crazier she gets.
- Stalker with a Crush: Alex, to the extent of being an alternate Trope Namer.
- Vapor Wear: Alex has no concept of wearing a bra, apparently.
- Woman Scorned: Alex, especially near the end.
- Yandere: Alex. Holy shit, Alex.
- Your Cheating Heart: Sets up the plot.