Alfie

Jude Law versus Michael Caine? Lewis Gilbert’s 1966 misogynistic rake’s progress always depended on the cheek, charm and chutzpah of the Kohl-eyed Caine’s iconic Cockney cocksman to take away the nasty taste in one’s mouth. Given this New York-located remake by consumer-comedy maestro Shyer (‘Father of the Bride’, etc) is as shallow as a satin sheet and quite as sexist as the Swingin’ ’60s version, it’s a wonder Law took it on. Maybe he fancied the fun, in an endless series of to-camera addresses, of sticking two fingers up PC’s fundament and laying down the law – ‘It’s all about FBB. Face, boob, bum’ – of the lively lad’s love ’em and leave ’em philosophy. Whatever, for a movie dominated by its main character, it’s only due to his insouciant charm that it’s watchable at all.

The defence for the original lay in its assertion of working-class energy; a brash new class claiming its share of the cake and the bowl of cherries. Shyer casts the chain-smoking north Londoner Alfie adrift in a fashion-spread Manhattan, streets initially filled like a Miss World catwalk with Benetton-coloured twentysomething beauties all double-taking as he jollies by in his farting Vespa, and films him in a series of flash-plate poses as the staged waves of comeuppance wash over him. We recall the Chet Baker – ‘Let’s Get Lost!’ – on his studio wall; resentful nightclubbers call him ‘Eurotrash’; and he’s reduced to watching the happy-clappy birthday party of estranged Marisa Tomei’s son through plate glass. But neither pathos nor irony take hold. No mud sticks to Jude, who can be seductive, funny and sweet. Omar Epps, Nia Long and, to a lesser extent, Susan Sarandon offer good support.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday October 22 2004
Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Charles Shyer
Screenwriter: Charles Shyer
Cast: Jude Law
Sienna Miller
Susan Sarandon
Marisa Tomei
Omar Epps
Nia Long
Jane Krakowski