Friday, December 18, 2020

Fatale: A shiny surface with pulp beneath


     It always starts with infidelity.
    An otherwise successful man veers from the straight-and-narrow by sleeping with an alluring woman who seems free of any moral constraints. Of course, it’s an illusion and his slip will lead to catastrophic consequences.
    Fatale — which stars Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy— presents itself as an unashamed piece of pulp entertainment that bends itself out of shape trying to add new wrinkles to a Fatal Attraction formula. 
     Ealy portrays Derrick Taylor, a  highly successful sports agent and partner in a super-profitable company. Swank’s Valerie Quinlan, the movie’s femme fatale, is a detective.
    I won’t say more other than to tell you that Derrick winds up as the suspect in a double murder that introduces more infidelities and betrayals into an already strained plot.
    Director Deon Taylor takes full advantage of the upscale aspirations of his characters. Derrick's home proves magazine-worthy and even Valerie's downtown loft seems stylish and desirable. 
    Put another way, just about everyone in the movie seems to have lost touch with the meaning of the words “middle class.” 
    At the same time, the screenplay by David Loughery imagines that the nouveau-riche sports agents — who happen to be black — can’t entirely escape motivations that push them into dangerous territory.
    Whatever the movie has to say about race comes across as inadvertent as Fatale tries to score with a mixture of glitz and voyeurism to which it applies dabs of violence and motivation.
    Mike Colter appears as Derrick's partner, a businessman who's eager to sell the firm, and Damaris Lewis appears as Derrick's beautiful wife. Neither actor gets much chance to stand-out.
    Danny Pino portrays a corrupt councilman who once was married to Valerie and now has custody of their daughter.
    Swank gives Valerie just enough suggestions of sanity to create some doubt about her motivations but formula demands that her character yield to the required extremes. 
    The rest of the cast serves the story but Fatale winds up as another helping of glamorized nonsense that shows little interest in anything more than its own glossy surface.

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