When it was first released, Fatal Attraction was the film everyone was talking about. Everyone, everywhere, all the time. But I was still underage and had never seen an R-rated movie. Then I just never got around to seeing to seeing it until today, nearly 23 years later. In the meantime, I moved to Japan, where people still talk about the “bubble years,” when the economy was great from the early ’80s till the mid-’90s, and everyone had enough money. This is in many ways an oversimplification and a to some extent a myth which was made possible through the tacit compliance of the general population, the majority of which was not actually loaded with money. Seeing Fatal Attraction reminded me that America was pretty much in the same position at the time.
Michael Douglas plays a high-profile entertainment lawyer with a happy family in a great apartment in New York, and some nice suits, even if his umbrella is broken. When his weekend fling comes back to terrorize him and his family, we are not exactly asked to sympathize with the situation he reluctantly admits he has “brought on himself,” but we are fully expected to identify with him. After the mid-’90s, there were very few rich central characters in films set in the real world (as opposed to obvious fictions such as James Bond). The affluent, and especially the extremely wealthy almost always occupied the role of the villain. In the ’80s, when regular people were buying stocks and hoping to live the American dream, it was still reasonable to expect them to relate to the penthouse, Madison Avenue lifestyle.