DIRECTOR: LEWIS GILBERT
COUNTRY: ENGLAND 1978
CINEMATOGRAPHY: LEWIS GILBERT
MUSIC: SONNY ROLLINS
CAST: Michael Caine (Alfie), Vivien Merchant, Jane Asher, Shelly Winters, Julia Foster, Murray Melvin, Denhom Elliot
FEATURES: The acting and the directing decisions.
Seeing this film some 25 years later is an interesting experience. One can either watch Michael Caine have an interesting rave up through out the piece, or one can get caught up in the process with which the film works. Alfie, then, and now, is, still, a breakthrough film. And most of it is due to the style of filming and the thinking forays that Director Lewis Gilbert gives us.
Even today, in the 21st century, few try what was done in that film, and done it better, or attempt to recreate it. Using the well known English stage device, the ever glowing ASIDE, Alfie takes us through his adventures, and misadventures, as he tries to meet the perfect "bird", or just plain getting laid.
And each time, when he reasons things, he is always talking to us, letting us know what he thinks, and what he might hope for. Things rarely work out perfectly, and never are totally satisfying for him, and we end-up hearing a bit too much of the Alfie philosophy. What's it all about, is still the theme, today. If we think that it was for sex, then even Alfie got taken for a ride and still has his memories another spot that would have also worked here. And if it was for an honest search for a little love and loving, then he failed as so many of us have done as well..... and settled for second best.
There are other things that make this film a very good, and original, one. It was photographed, for the most part with a hand held camera, and with a small budget. And the hand held camera, creates a very nice feeling of intimacy, which helps in us getting to like the main character. One can't help feel for him, when he is so close to us, and having the same problems we are. When he helps one woman, he ends up losing her. When he takes advantage of one, he also ends up losing her. And what's the point and answer? That's what Alfie is asking us in the end, although he does, finally, make a friend, with no conditions... a dog.
Today, this film is a classic, and should stand out as one of the very refreshing, and original pieces of film. It brought us all Michael Caine, who is excellent, and a veritable who is who from the London stage at the time, with the exception of the American actress Shelly Winters.
The best things to look for in this film are the well designed camera angles. The personal stuff all gets close up angles, even for the personal exchanges, something which Jean Luc Godard was fond of. And then there are the very lively angles which seem to add a rather distinctive and unusual style to the film.
Worth seeing, and very well done, even if the color, today, appears too bright and washed out. But it still shows, what many films can not do today. Original, excellent acting... the English kind.
4 of 5 GIBLOONS
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