1. Alfie and the minor characters
1.3. Mr. Wing
The 2004 remake of the 1966 original Alfie movie once again introduces a charmed, vain, rakish, and women-loving man to our screen. The story itself has not changed much and Alfie is still one of the best women-devouring men around New York City this time, so that makes it interesting for us to talk about femininity as well as masculinity since there are so many different types of women involved with Alfie. The gender construction here is very interesting to explore more deeply and how it affects the male lead and protagonist Alfie. So I want to argue that from the very first scene, because of the construction of it, each and every woman Alfie interacts with we can already guess how that particular female character is constructed in terms of femininity and we can also guess how it will affect Alfie and his decisions.
A showstopper, as Alfie calls them, is the perfect woman with the perfect body and figure who functions the way Alfie wants her to. She then, of course, must fit into his F.B.B. measurement, which is face-boobs-bum, if that does not convince him he will not consider her for a lay. She should also be superficial enough to be one of his showstoppers, but not only that counts for him. The most important thing for Alfie is still having sex - promiscuous sex. No matter if it is a sexually neglected married woman, a single mother/housewife, a rich elderly woman, or his best friend’s girl.
The first of his showstoppers we meet is Dori. A sexually depressed woman who is married to a businessman, Phil, who at that point of the movie, has not laid her for six months. No wonder a sexually depressed and neglected woman seeks Alfie's help in terms of having sex. The picture we get of her in her very first scene is that she fits into Alfie's F.B.B. measurement. A beautiful, sexy face, Dori is a blonde with a voluptuous and breathtaking figure who obviously likes having sex in the car. Moans is the only thing the audience get to know and then there is a cut to not only hear but also see them act in the back of Alfie's limosine. A provocative, half-naked woman sitting on Alfie's lap and he is talking to the camera as if this would be a normal thing to do in that situation. Here one can clearly see that since they have sex in the car and have been doing that for quite a few times that Dori is the one-night-stand person for Alfie. Due to her marriage to Phil, they cannot go to Dori’s place and since Alfie hardly ever takes home his girls they need to do it in his car, which is an indicator that it will not last for a long time.
That is the one and only sex scene they have in the movie; after that Alfie has flings with other women. Only when the love of his life breaks his heart and throws away the flowers he bought to propose to her is when Dori and Alfie meet again. She appears to be disappointed, even a little hurt, that he did not ring through in the meantime but she knew it from the beginning. And even though she was “quite a number”, as Alfie says, she was only one of many he slept with. That furthermore is her strongest moment in the film when she tells him that she does not want to see him again because she feels used and exploited at that point.
Julie is a single mother who is presented as a housewife in her first scene. The very first we get to see of her is when she is looking through the window hoping to see Alfie coming home. Julie is a dark haired woman, slim, tall, not particularly presented as sexy and seductive, but rather motherly and caring. She is in the kitchen preparing the food for Alfie and does not appear to be waiting to be taken. She is dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a jersey, so she does not seem to care for her looks.
What she does not know at that point is that she only functions “as his back-up girlfriend” as Desson Thomson suggests (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- dyn/content/article/2004/ll/05/AR2005033112665.htmll. Alfie just comes home from a one-night-stand with Dori that she does not know about yet and only wants to eat and sleep. And when Julie tries to seduce him on the couch he says his cassette is unloaded and that he wants to sleep. Later on when she tells him that she loves him- an uncommon thing for Alfie to hear- he only replies with a “thanks”. Susan Brownmiller says that especially for women love is important which, for Julie, is absolutely true.
“A requirement of femininity is that a woman devote her life to love- to mother love, to romantic love, to religious love, amorphous, undifferentiated caring.” (215)
As Brownmiller goes on arguing, “the point is feeling” and Julie feels love for Alfie but he as a man does not have the same feeling for her because he only comes back to her when he feels like he needs a home and a family, which proves that he does not love her (215). Julie is terribly upset and starts arguing that he would not love her, which is indeed true, but he does not admit it yet. As Joshua Tyler says Julie “feeds his nurturing side. A single mother, she provides for him a family environment he can slip in and out of, like a snake shedding its skin” íhttp://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Alfíe-714.htmli. He is absolutely right, Alfie only uses Julie to give him the feeling that he is needed as a father. A sentimental side of him that Alfie reveals when we meet Julie’s little son in the same scene. He advises to never fall in love with a single mom because she has got something irresistible which is the child.
She furthermore thinks that she is only his booty call because he uses her as he wants to and when he needs to; but when she wants him he is tired. She is probably not superficial enough to satisfy his needs for a showstopper. Alfie says she is cute and adorable but he wonders if she can be superficial enough to make him stay with her. Obviously she cannot. She leaves him and finds someone new. Later when they meet again she is much more selfconfident and radiates sexyness as if now that she is rid of Alfie she is a new person.
Another of Alfie's showstoppers is the rich, elderly, red-haired Liz. He assumes she is fifty but he says that fifty is the new forty and it immediately clicks between them. In the first scene Liz is presented in a fur coat sitting in the back of his limosine. There she already radiates her self-assurance, sexyness, experience with men and knowledge of them. Liz furthermore shows that older women can be interesting and sexually attractive, even to younger men, and she is very self-assured about her sexual allurements; so she gives the camera a very seductive look. In the next scene we see her in a short tight black dress covering her voluptuous and attractive body which makes Alfie go crazy because she emphazises her sexyness even more with her outfit. But when he comes closer to her seeing her revealing cleavage and ample bosom he finds a tattoo on her left breast that excites him enormously. He has never seen a woman like Liz before with her blossoming femininity. That inspires him to have a fling with her but Alfie does not realize yet that she only wants him to be her toyboy to satisfy her sexual needs. Her drug abuse and alcohol consumption not only impresses him but also leads him into doing the same which makes her look like a bike chick.
Liz is obviously a sexual-orientated woman who does not care for the love of her men. She wants to be admired for her looks, her beauty and seeks confirmation through having a lot of sex. The more men she can have and seduce, the more self-assured she will be.
- Quote paper
- Magister Anke Werckmeister (Author), 2007, Femininity and Masculinity Constructions in "Alfie", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/202923