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Alfie

Director:  Lewis Gilbert
Year Released:  1966
Rating:  2.0

As an examination of the "swinging 60's" of England, it's accurate, with the self-absorbed British male embodied by a know-it-all egotist named Alfie, played with gusto by the typically dead-on Michael Caine. You can immediately tell it's based on a play, since most of Caine's speeches and thoughts are projected into the camera - i.e. directly to the audience - which would be later utilized by Woody Allen in his self-confessional films. But Alfie's crude behavior, and his unquestionable ignorance are mighty repellent - the film sets it up like he is going to get his comeuppance yet he never seems to be fazed (the film's own psychology is a tad questionable - was the third act's "horror" supposed to completely change him?). Quite simply, the picture presents a situation and a character but never seems to resolve its fundamental dilemma: what does all this blathering on the part of the lead character amount to? While I abhor simple answers, Gilbert nor the playwright offer much of anything for the film's intriguing but simple two hour running time. And while it's masochistic, black fun to watch Caine with all his confidence and sexuality make the women he seduced scrub his floors and prepare his meals (much to his disliking), there's a part of you that wants him to suffer, too ... yet his ignorance prevents him from doing so.

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