Review: Deon Taylor's campy 'Fatale' attempts new tricks with mild success
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Deon Taylor’s “Fatale” plays a familiar tune, though it has some nifty tricks you might not see coming. Hilary Swank and frequent Taylor muse, Michael Ealy give the film more pedigree than it deserves, but I was surprised at how this cautionary tale of lust and desire circumvented expectations with each posterperous twist.
Ealy plays Derrick, the co-founder of a successful sports agency whose wealthy, has an office with a view and is decked out in pristine, tailor made suits. It’s comical how that, no matter how often this niche genre of erotica thrillers get rebranded, the lead guy always has to work in a shiny office and wear luxurious suits because it’s legally mandated.
Derrick thinks he’s in a happy marriage with Tracie (Damaris Lewis), a successful real estate agent, but you can tell they’re unhappy. So instead of working through the issues or engaging in couples therapy, Derrick tosses the wedding ring at a Vegas bachelor party and hooks up with Val (Hilary Swank) at the behest of his best friend, Rafe (Mike Colter). Yes, dear reader, I know this doesn’t make sense, but cheap thriller law dictates Val and Derrick will cross paths again, and - for someone who doesn’t watch trailers - I was flabbergasted at what Taylor and screenwriter David Loughery cooked up.
From “Fatal Attraction,” “Obsessed,” and “Unforgettable,” and a few Hitchcockian elements, nothing about Taylor’s film screams originality, but “Fatale” is able to solidify its own identity if not because of Swank’s unwavering commitment to selling every line. The two-time Oscar winner is clearly having a ball (she’s also a producer) and despite the obvious third act shocker coming from a mile away, Swank never loses momentum and therefore the audience stays invested (or maybe that’s my third alcoholic beverage kicking in).
Either way, the writing is clunky (an opening and closing narration are laughable) and there are some awfully convenient plot points that serve the main characters in times of desperate need, but under the lens of cinematographer Dante Spinotti (“L.A. Confidential”) who gives the film a noir aesthetic, “Fatale” is a slightly above average thriller that achieves moderate success.
FATALE is currently playing in select theaters (check your listings) and debuts on PVOD January 8th, 2021.
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