It takes a lot of moxie to make re-make a classic, and it takes a certain flair to do it successfully. Charles Shyer demonstrated both as the director and co-writer (with Elaine Pope) of the iconic 60s classic about a charismatic cad. Rethinking the story to reflect a 21st century sensibility and casting Jude Law as the cad in question were very smart moves.
When I spoke with Shyer on October 22, 2004, there was much to discuss, including the aesthetic of pink shirts, the wonder of how comedy can make bad behaviour entertaining, and the magic of slamming absinthe in Romania with Christopher Walken.
And since I had him in front of the microphone, I took the opportunity to go off topic and ask why “The Odd Couple” television series, of which he was the head writer, isn’t on DVD yet. True to his word, he did get back to me about it and the good news is it’s set for release sometime in 2005.
The thing about Jude Law is that he is so unbelievably beautiful. Such is his pulchritude, not to mention his irresistible onscreen charm, that it’s easy to overlook the undeniable acting chops that are greater even than the sum of his more ephemeral gifts. In ALFIE, Charles Shyer’s re-make of the 60s classic that starred Michael Caine, all of Laws talents are called into play and displayed to exquisite advantage in this tragedy about a man who discovers too late how very, very alone he truly is. In fact, anything less than a charming pretty boy would be ridiculous in the role of the fatally magnetic, terminally commitment-phobic manchild. Anything less than an ability to show the slow, emotionally wrenching slide into adulthood that this libidinous Peter Pan goes through would be an exercise in futility on the part of all involved.
ALFIE is a smart film that respects the original while making the same sort of trenchant comments about its time that the 1966 version did about its time. Its a deeply satisfying, fully realized portrait of someone beyond help, but not beyond pity. And irresistible to the end.