Alfie (Jude Law) is an Englishman in New York, a womanising young man whose philosophy is a well refined lifestyle bible for the swinging bachelor who wants all the advantages - and variety - of female company without the commitment or the responsibility. There's Dorie (Jane Krakowski) and Julie (Marisa Tomei) and Liz (Susan Sarandon), the latter an older woman and a notch up for Alfie. As he trips through his life as a limo chauffeur, he confides in us his innermost thoughts - but not his feelings, which he keeps tightly wrapped. When he spends an evening playing pool with his best friend's girlfriend, Lonette (Nia Long), he crosses the line and the repercussions follow him to the final realisation that he's more of a danger to himself than to his conquests.
Review by Louise Keller:
He is so confident about his masculinity he is unafraid of the colour pink, and likes to splash cologne on the part of his anatomy he calls Big Ben. He is Alfie, that cocky, handsome devil, whose life philosophy is women and women. It's been nearly 40 years since Michael Caine showed us 'What's it all about' as the brash, womanising Londoner who spent his life breaking hearts, in what was the role that skyrocketed him to stardom. And while it's hard to replicate the pathos of the original, the very handsome Jude Law makes the remake eminently watchable.
Scriptwriter Bill Naughton has reworked his script from his original 1966 play with a few changes. Although Alfie is still a Londoner, he lives in New York, and works as a limo driver, an occupation that gives him plenty of opportunity to meet the fairer sex. Structured in the same way as the original, the screenplay brings us up close and personal to Alfie, as he confides his every thought to us in brief asides directly to the camera. We are his inner most confidant as he includes us with his disarming smile and cocky gaze. As Alfie tries to work out the meaning of life, he shares with us the fleeting, and frequent encounters he has with women.
There's Marisa Tomei's single mum, who comes with an 8 year old accessory; Jane Krakowski's Dorie who leaves her knickers in Alfie's pocket; Sienna Miller's party girl Nikki; Nia Long's Lonette, who also happens to be his best mate's (Omar Epps) girl. When he meets Susan Sarandon's Liz, she is sitting in the backseat of the limo and their eyes meet in the rear vision mirror. 'Aren't you Mr Full Service?' she retorts, when Alfie comes unannounced into the Chanel shop and gives his approval as Liz is trying on a low-cut, clingy black number.
Alfie's priority remains Alfie, and he treats all his women pretty shoddily. No question, Law will have the girls drooling and the guys will wish they looked just like him. His Alfie is flirtatious, dashing, cheeky and in a word - irresistible. But with less edge than Caine stamped his flawed character. Hence, when Alfie gets his comeuppance, we don't feel for him as much as we would like.
I enjoyed meeting Alfie again. He is used to catching women off guard, and is so surprised when it happens to him. Not surprising, really.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Fascinating update, taking the 60s setting and context into the new millennium when so much has changed in the gender wars, and from feminism to AIDS, from playboys to SNAGS. Where Michael Caine was the essential hedonistic bachelor, Jude Law is more self aware and the time warp has provided us with a different perspective.
For one thing, Caine's Alfie was decidedly working class; Law's Alfie is aspiring middle class. For another, London in the 60s had a unique atmos, very different to the contemporary Manhattan of this remake.
Then there's the filmmaking style: in the 60s, Alfie talking directly to camera with intimate revelations about his thought processes was gobsmacking. Today, it's cute or novel. But it's so well done and Jude Law is so darned endearingly real that we buy it all anyway. It's a little short of a miracle that this work transcends its transition; so much could have gone wrong, not least multiple partnering. What makes it hang together is the original premise: Alfie first appeals to the wild at heart in us, reels us in with his irresistible charm, his killer smile-with-glint-in-eye, and then sends us into the confessional for his comeuppance.
It's bright, breezy but with a deep sadness at its core, Alfie 2004 is a different animal to Alfie 1965, but when you look at it, the difference is more circumstantial. He is still the same misguided young man who we can easily relate to. And understand.
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CAST: Jude Law, Jane Krakowski, Marisa Tomei, Omar Epps, Susan Sarandon, Sienna Miller, Nia Long, Gedde Watanabe, Dick Latessa
PRODUCER: Elaine Pope, Charles Shyer
DIRECTOR: Charles Shyer (play by Bill Naughton)
SCRIPT: Elaine Pope, Charles Shyer
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ashley Rowe
EDITOR: Padraic McKinley
MUSIC: Mick Jagger, John Powell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sophie Becher
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 20, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
VIDEO RELEASE: May 19, 2005