As Alfie, the hunkish, roguish Brit chauffeur who feels secure enough in his masculinity to wear pink shirts and put Manhattan to the Sex and the City test by fucking everything in Manolos, Jude Law gives a sexy, witty performance that should make his likeness suitable for framing by those who want to see him hot, not grunged up (Cold Mountain), robotic (A.I.) or reduced to supporting roles (I Heart Huckabees). Never mind that Law's acting in those films was top-tier. Alfie is the spot that puts him in the game with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and, God forbid, Ben Affleck. And Law seizes the moment — delivering Alfie's racy monologues to the camera with charm, wit and enough sizzle to melt cold steel. But there's a but. Michael Caine pulled off the same trick in 1966 when he played Alfie. And that movie was in every way tougher and harder-boiled. Director Charles Shyer (Father of the Bride), who co-wrote the script, wants us to like this Alfie. The women Alfie betrays, played by Marisa Tomei, Jane Krakowski, Nia Long and Sienna Miller (Law's offscreen love and an actress of beauty and intelligence), give him so many deserved post-feminist whacks that you almost pity the guy. By the time older woman Susan Sarandon trades him in for a younger stud, you may want to hug him. This is all wrong. The only touch of Caine's brutal sexiness is in the thrilling songs by Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart that should win Sir Mick his first Oscar. The rest is marshmallow. What's that all about, Alfie?
From The Archives Issue 274: September 21, 1978