It's been a defining year for Jude Law. He received a best actor Oscar nomination for Cold Mountain, he had a very public divorce and is now two films into his six film assault on the cinema-going public. Alfie is the first film being sold entirely on his name so there's a lot riding on it. But will people, especially the Yanks, accept Law as an A-list actor?
Alfie (Law) is a limousine driver with what appears to be the perfect lifestyle. Claiming to have never made his bed in his life he relies upon the women he surrounds himself with. Sleeping around town more than Colin Farrell, he loathes commitment. But after a series of setbacks to his ego, Alfie begins to realise that his womanising ways will soon lead him to a life of loneliness.
Having not seen the original, I came to Alfie without the in-built sacrilegious thoughts of many UK critics. I have also admired Law's work in Cold Mountain, Gattaca and The Talented Mr. Ripley.
However, try as I might, I could find little to enjoy in Alfie. As superficial and transparent as its lead character, it was little more than a collection of independent scenes, without a coherent, or more importantly, interesting storyline to connect them. The 'surprises' near the end are anything but and serve only to remind you how poorly written the film is.
As a calling card for the masses Alfie shows Law off to be good-looking yet vacant and without much distinctiveness. His performance is forgettable, bordering on the smug and annoying after one too many one-on-ones with the viewer.
His supporting cast of women are all equally shallow. Sienna Miller looks great but has little chance to actually act while Susan Sarandon phones in a perfunctory performance. The superficiality of the characters is promoted and even praised in the early stages yet when things turn slightly serious in the end, we find it hard to care about their predicaments.
The film looks great admittedly, and muted it might prove to be an attractive advert for one of the many designer labels spoken about by Alfie and his cohorts. Yet as an entertaining, funny or appealing movie it falls flat on its face.
One of the season's major disappointments, this will only be necessary for die-hard Jude Law fans who care little about plot, humour or character development. Everyone else should approach with caution.