FATAL ATTRACTION by H.B. Gilmour, Book vs. Film

PUBLISHER: Signet, 4/1988
GENRE: Fiction/Contemporary Thriller
SETTING: New York, USA
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: Dan Gallagher is a happy man. He is a rising young lawyer, with a loving wife, and an adorable daughter. Just one tiny thing is missing. Excitement.

In steps Alex Forrest. She is bright, gorgeous, sexy, and she takes Dan on an unbelievable one-night fling with no strings attached.

That's what she says. That's what he believes. But the truth turns out to be different Because Alex is playing for keeps-and she'll do anything to make Dan hers. Anything.

Bestseller based on screenplay by James Dearden and made into a blockbuster movie starring Michael Douglas & Glenn Close.



MY THOUGHTS: The novel was written by Harriet B. Gilmour and was published seven months after the film came out and is pretty much the same as the film with a lot of the exact dialogue. I was hoping the novel would be different in some way, or have the alternate ending, which was actually the original one and first of the two to be filmed, and the one the film didn't use, but the book used the same as the film. The original ending is the more believable of the two but was more boring for a thriller.

The storyline and two main characters are severely underdeveloped and needed to be fleshed out a lot more. The novel is at least 100 pages too short (it's only 222 pages). We need to know all there is to know about Alex's background, what she's ever been diagnosed with, and if she has a history of obsessing over men but we learned nothing at all about her, which is a shame. I think that was done on purpose so that we wouldn't have any sympathy for her.

The ending used just isn't plausible to me. It just wouldn't go down like that in real life. Dan's wife Beth being angry for just a moment about the affair and threating to kill Alex makes no sense to me. In real life a person would be really upset and especially so at the person who cheated on them...not the stranger they cheated with. Instead we get a weak character in Beth who's angry at the wrong person.

I think Glenn Close did a decent job of portraying a mentally unstable person. She showed agitation when she was upset and especially so when she yelled 'get out!' and kicked Michael off the bed

The plot has slight similarities to the opera Madame Butterfly that Alex loves, which I'd never heard about before this.

BOOK VS. FILM:

There's a scene in the film where Dan tells Alex that he can't see her again, then Alex kicks him in his lower back, pushing him off the bed, then she slits her wrists before he leaves (the look on Dan's face is priceless when he notices it). He bandages them up, then asks Alex why she's so unhappy. She says, 'I'm so lonely' in reply. He doesn't ask her that in the film.

There's a scene in the film where Dan breaks into Alex's and snoops around after she tells him she's pregnant. He opens her medicine cabinet and we see several prescription bottles. In the book he writes down the names of the prescriptions and has a friend look into what they're for (they're uppers, downers, et cetera), but doesn't do that in the film.

In the book when Dan's driving home from work with the rabbit, he thinks he sees Alex following two cars behind him in the next lane. In the film he doesn't see her following.

Right after that near the end of the book when Dan brings home the rabbit at night, he thinks he sees Alex watching through the window. She feels sick and gags watching the happy scene and runs off. Sometime after that when Dan's in the yard he sees some tissue where he thought he'd seen Alex, presumably where she wiped her mouth off or something after vomiting. In the film Dan doesn't see her watching nor does he find used tissue in the yard.

It's said in the book that Ellen tells them that Alex said 'nasty' things about her mother when she was at the amusement park with her but that comment's left out of the film.

The book also describes Alex as having pale green eyes and being pale yet tan.

The film was based on James Dearden's cowritten 1980 British short film called Diversion, which you can watch here. Unlike in Fatal Attraction, it's the male, Guy, who instigates the affair, not Erica. Erica's more immature and jealous than Alex, which seems more realistic.




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