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The original Alfie came out in 1966 and was the breakthrough film for Michael Caine. He was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars and the film got nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Song, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Vivien Merchant). You get the idea. I was going to do a detailed comparison of the new and old Alfie's but the old version is not available for rent here in Baton Rouge, a.k.a. the whirlpool of despair. As it is, I will just ask as I always do, why did they remake this classic film? The new Alfie follows the same plot and has a similar style to the original. In particular, Alfie (Jude Law) carries on a conversation with the audience throughout the movie much as Michael Caine did in the original. The action has been transplanted to New York City but Alfie is still a Brit. And there is a bevy of beauties through which Alfie cuts like a hot knife through butter. A few of Alfie's conquests are, a single mother (Marisa Tomei), a troubled young woman (Sienna Miller), a lonely married woman (Jane Krakowski), his best friend's girlfriend (Nia Long) and the female equivalent of Alfie (Susan Sarandon). Alfie's character hasn't been updated much since the 60's. He undergoes some small amount of personal growth as he sows mayhem among the female population of New York but only a small amount. There is also a half-hearted subplot concerning Alfie's job as a limo driver, his boss (Gedde Watanabe) and his best friend (Omar Epps) but who really cares? This movie is about Alfie and his babes.
All of my whingeing about remakes aside, I did enjoy the new Alfie. Sure, the characters are stereotypes and the plot developments are quite predictable, but Jude Law and the rest of the cast make it fun just to watch the sparks fly. Law is getting to be one of the best and also one of the most hardworking. He has three other movies in 2004, I Heart Huckabees, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Closer (opens December 3). He is really good as Alfie and handles the soliloquies to the camera with aplomb. And you will have no problem believing that he could pull all these women. The casting of the women is smart. They are all known for playing strong characters, i.e., Tomei (My Cousin Vinny), Sarandon (every movie she makes), Krakowski (Ally McBeal), so they are not blown off the screen when Law appears. And the new Alfie is an ode to the sex appeal of older women. In the movie, Law (age 32) gets involved with mostly older women: Long (age 34), Krakowski (age 36), Tomei (age 40) and Sarandon (age 58). And they all look great. Sarandon will probably still be sexy when she is 80. The only younger woman is Sienna Miller who, in real life, happens to be the woman that Jude law left his wife and three kids for. Oh well, life does not imitate art.
Alfie, the movie and the character, has a lot of style. Law cares more about style than Caine did. His Alfie is presented as the male equivalent of Carrie in Sex and the City. The art direction of this movie is wonderful. New York city has never looked better. The director, Charles Shyer has been around, he was a writer and director on the Odd Couple TV series, so he doesn't let Alfie sit around moping. After all, women are like streetcars. There's always another one coming along.