Jude Law as Alfie Elkins
Marisa Tomei as Julie
Susan Sarandon as Liz
Nia Long as Lonette
Jane Krakowski as Dorie
Sienna Miller as Nikki
Omar Epps as Marlon
Jude Law has been a busy man this year, with starring roles in four movies and supporting work in two others. Alfie, while not the movie with the widest appeal, could have Jude’s best acting of the year in it.
Reprising the role of Alfie is not an easy task. The first thing that Jude had to overcome is the very close association the character has with Michael Caine, who gave an excellent performance in the first movie. In order to separate the films, they allowed Jude to use his normal voice instead of adopting the Cockney accent that Caine used. The filmmakers also changed the location from London to New York, further distancing the films.
Second is that the movie spends every scene focused on Alfie, who is an only marginally interesting character. The film uses a combination of traditional acting and talking directly into the camera, which is rarely done well. Jude aptly handles the challenges presented, somehow staying charming, while basically playing an unsympathetic character. Instead of taking the viewer out of the movie, Jude’s direct address to the audience actually gives further insight into the Alfie’s motivations.
The rest of the supporting cast pass in and out of Alfie’s life effortlessly, never stealing the scenes but expanding them appropriately. Susan Sarandon and Omar Epps really stand out as the female equivalent to and best friend of Alfie respectively.
The score is smooth and blends well with the style that Alfie has. Technically, the movies effects are seamless. The edits in some scenes are a bit quick, but only when Alfie voices over his effect on other people’s lives, the rest of the time the camera (thankfully) does not wander much. Alfie lives a disjointed life, erratically going from one woman to another. The pace of the film mimics that, introducing characters and then abruptly discarding them. It worked for me, but it may be distracting for many people.
Who should see this movie? Jude Law fans will appreciate the way he is allowed to develop in the film. Alfie is not the same person at the end of the film as he was when the movie started, and Jude does that transition very well. Action and comedy fans will need to look someplace else. If you are looking for a character study that shows the evolution of a person through a critical time in their lives, then you should enjoy watching the subtle transformation of Alfie. If you are ready to see a film about a hip womanizer, you are ready to see Alfie.