(Review originally written at 8 November 2006)

This movie is an excellent character study and period study of the '60's. It sheds some lights on some for '60's standards controversial subjects but it does this in a light enjoyable way, without making the movie too preachy, though its message still comes over perfectly.

I wasn't too sure what to expect when watching this movie. Guess I expected another silly over-the-top British comedy but the movie turned out to be a light movie about some serious matters. Sounds like a weird combination but it works out perfectly.

This is probably the definitive Michael Caine role. It's the role most people shall always remember him for and he had a hard time getting rid of his Cockney-image after this movie. The main character is rude, self-centered and over-confident. Yet the character intrigues and you never start to hate him. I think this says a lot about the way Michael Caine portrays him. He delivers one of his best, if not best performances, that you have to see to believe. He carries the entire movie and lifts it to a level of true excellence.

It really is the main character that makes the movie and its story work out so fine. It sorts of even makes you forget that also the great Shelley Winters is in the movie, giving away a fine performance. Also Denholm Elliott shows up in a small but really great role.

For its time "Alfie" is a quite daring movie. The subject of self-centered lady-killers isn't a much lighted subject. He messes around with married women, even women of men that he knows and even manages to get a married woman pregnant. Which brings us to the most controversial subject of the movie; abortion. He doesn't ever get emotional involved with any of them and drops them as soon as he gets bored of them or when they're becoming too difficult to handle or maintain a relationship with. It's a rude movie but the style it is made in makes sure that its more of a fun and light one to watch. This doesn't mean that the message about self behavior doesn't come across. Through the performances and style of movie-making the message still comes across perfectly and effective, in a non-forced way.

The main character in the movie slowly begins to realize that this is not the right way to live. He's starting to age and his health is also starting to decline. He gets a couple of setbacks in the movie which are needed to make him aware of his own behavior. HE tries to change and settle down but is it possible to still set things straight and start living a new life after all those years of not caring? The movie subtle handles these questions and many more. It's all the more reason why "Alfie" is such a powerful and effective movie to watch.

The movie is very style-fully directed by Lewis Gilbert, who later went on directed some fan-favorite James Bond movies. The constant talking-right-into-the-camera of the main character works great in an original narrative way and makes lots of things clear without wasting to much time on the images or dialog of a sequences. It helps to make "Alfie" a fast paced movie that is over before you know it. It also helps you to get involved deeper- and more easy with the main character.

The movie also gives us an excellent realistic view in the '60's and the social life of the period. It sort of makes this an essential '60's viewing.

An excellent, amusing and powerful mix of drama and comedy, with an intriguing main character and story filled with controversial subjects, without ever trying to shock or preach.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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