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Movie Review

Alfie (15PG)

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1 of 1 An empathic performance
An empathic performance

Directed by Charles Shyer, starring Jude Law, Susan Sarandon, Marisa Tomei, Sienna Miller, Graydon Carter, Julienne Davis, Omar Epps, Anastasia Griffith, Edward Hogg, Jane Krakowski, Nia Long, Gedde Watanabe and Tara Summers.

It's hard to top a great film with a remake and if you can't come close there seems little point in stepping into the territory at all. Charles Shyer had a daunting challenge after choosing to rework this classic. Self-assured and oozing the natural charm that Alfie embodies, Jude Law was an obvious choice for leading man.

Stepping up to the part of womanising cockney, in the role previously owned by Michael Caine in the 1966 film, Law looks comfortable as Alfie, the limousine driver with notions above his station.

The original direct-address-to-camera technique has been maintained in this version, with Law coming across as both charming and despicable in equal measures as he delivers his witty asides. This time the movie is set in New York City, where the philandering Londoner is doing the rounds on what he calls the "gorgeous and diverse" female population there.

As he charms his way into bed (or even the back seat of his limo) with single mother Julie (Tomei), lonely housewife Dorie (Krawowski) and maniac depressive Nikki (Miller) we get a glimpse of Alfie's wicked ways. He finally meets his match when older woman Liz (Sarandon) turns up on the scene. The confident Chanel-clad redhead has her head turned by fast talking Alfie, but she has more than a taste of his own medicine in store for him.

After a health scare and a shattered friendship, - when he gets drunk and sleeps with his best friend Marlon's (Epps) ex-girlfriend Lonette (Long) - Alfie evolves from carefree charmer into a desolate and pretty pathetic character. You just can't help feeling for the predicament he finds himself in when his luck finally runs out.

Unfortunately for Law, there are a lot of people who believe that Caine's performance in the original 'Alfie' cannot be outdone and try as he might to put his own stamp on this, many will forever associate the part with its original actor. That said, there is very little to fault in Law's empathic performance. And Bill Naughton's original play, unpolitically correct as it is, still makes you laugh in spite of yourself.

"What's it all about?" asks the tagline. One smooth-talking, quick acting, blue-eyed boy. Cheater, womaniser...call him what you may, but you can't help liking rogue Alfie when all's said and done.

Linda McGee

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