"Do you trust me?"
In a diluted and dumbed down reincarnation of 1987's Fatal Attraction, Peter Sullivan's Fatal Affair is painfully familiar to those who are old enough to know of Glenn Close and Michael Douglas' adulterous endeavors. Sadly this retelling cannot capture the excitement of its visible source material, offering up a story that is over sexual yet underwhelming.
The film reunites Nia Long and Omar Epps (1999's In Too Deep), who share an intimate moment in a bar restroom after a few too many drinks. The setup, painfully simplistic, is also reasonably cookie-cutter, given the genre, offering up little in the way of originality and giving its two leading players little to work with in depth or complexity.
Long stars as Ellie, a successful lawyer who has just relocated to a luxurious beachside property outside of San Francisco and is stalked by newly reacquainted college friend David, played by Epps.
Even after twenty years, David still finds himself smitten by Ellie, constantly affirming his physical excitement as he navigates the harsh terrain to win the heart of a married woman who, misreading the situation, confides in him the details about her struggling marriage.
The pair find themselves in the aforementioned bar after a long day at work where Ellie, in the heat of the moment, acts of David's advances. The two make out in a dimly lit bathroom, but reality strikes before much else, putting a sudden damper to David's ill-intended plans. That's it. (Yes, Affair in the title is a definite stretch.)
Thus begins the slow boil to unhealthy obsession as calls, texts, and in-person confrontations build on the intended anxiety. Ellie works to handle the situation without losing a marriage that she has suddenly worked hard to heal, though that quick change of status is never entirely told. It's fascinating really, the pace at which the lifeless unity turns prosperous. Then again, in San Francisco (much like Hollywood), anything is possible.
Fatal Affair does provide a compelling upgrade on technology as we watch David bypass caller ID and manipulate text messages and security footage. But given the grand scope of the situation, the film is unable to necessarily build to the expected level, especially given the room available to explore the human's impetuous need for lust and danger.
Sullivan rarely explores anything really, keeping the film in the center lane as he works through the formulaic obstacles that yearn for some degree of vulnerability, though never wholly putting his likable characters in any sense of real danger. Rather than an intense thriller, we get a Lifetime Original Movie, which makes sense, given Sullivan's history within the space.
But with the film's incredible talent and highly respected source material, Fatal Affair should have been much better than it ended up. Though Netflix may be an adequate platform for its potential success, in regards to filmmaking, this film marks a painful reminder that sometimes the collective result isn't nearly as grand as the skills of its separate parts.
*This film is streaming globally on Netflix.