Nov 12, 2004
The big lesson of Alfie is the difference of episodic and organic story. An episodic story is one in which the individual event or scene stands alone. An organic story is one in which all the events and scenes are connected under the surface and build to a surprising but also logically necessary ending.
This film is extremely episodic. Alfie loves a number of women who are only mildly different. So each segment seems like the same beat, hit again and again.
Couple this with a simplistic moral decline on the part of the hero and you have a predictable story that devolves. This is the kiss of death.
All good fiction has a strong moral element, but a moral tale is too heavy-handed. The original Alfie was also episodic. But it had the great advantage of a hero whose hedonistic, amoral lifestyle was in shocking contrast to the prevailing morality and movie history at the time.
Forty years later, showing a playboy who learns that easy sex is hollow is so common, obvious and p.c. that the point is made by the second scene of the film. Everything after that is a test of endurance.