Film

Film

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Almost 40 years after Michael Caine sauntered across screens as the devil-may-care Cockney cad, the new Alfie gears for the U.S. market, with its relocation to Manhattan and its roster of American actresses (Marisa Tomei, Nia Long, Susan Sarandon), a spunkier bunch than the dreary succession of pre-feminist doormats trampled in Lewis Gilbert’s 1966 original. With his girlish beauty and impish demeanor, Jude Law embodies the Maxim-age Alfie as a puppyish 30-going-on-17-year-old who exhibits all the symptoms of arrested adolescence, including short attention span and chronic horniness. Our bounding hero continues yammering incessantly to the camera as the screws of comeuppance tighten: He’s pelted from all sides by rejection, abuse from his boss (a grotesquely antiquated “Asian” stereotype), impotence, a health scare, and a trip to an abortion clinic. The latter episode proved the darkest chapter in Gilbert’s Alfie, but the new rendition ducks away from this divisive topic; indeed, remake hack Charles Shyer (who processed the Parent Trap and Father of the Bride updates) plays coy with most matters sexual—an odd and puritanical approach to a character who molds his entire existence around the procurement and enjoyment of sex. We had more of an idea of Gigolo Joe’s erotic technique in A.I.

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