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  • Katie Bell

Fatal Affair (2020)

In short, Fatal Affair is about a man named David, who likes: black baseball caps, standing in the background of shots, and leering at a woman named, Ellie.

Pictured: David. Baseball cap. Leering. Ellie.

At length, Fatal Affair is 89 minutes of David stalking Ellie...then Ellie stalking David back...but to quote The Sound of Music, (a completely irrelevant movie at this point - unless you can argue that Nazi's stalk the von Trapps) "let's start at the very beginning"...

Ellie (Nia Long) and her husband, Stephen (Marcus Warren), have just moved away from the city, to enjoy beach-side living. We know this because of repeated exposition between Ellie and Stephen, where they discuss whether or not this move was a mistake. No reasons are cited, but it could still be a mistake! Enter David, who is employed as a contract hacker at Ellie's work. Apparently, they knew each other back in college, twenty years ago. David asks Ellie for a drink. She's busy though, because she has dinner with her husband tonight and her "friend" Courtney berated her into getting drinks after work tomorrow. But David's puppy dog eyes work! Ellie invites him to join her and Courtney for drinks tomorrow evening.

...You can guess what happens next, right? That's right! Courtney is literally the worst. She stands Ellie up. Ellie is now on a date with David. At one point in the evening, when discussing Stephen, Ellie says, "One day you wake up and realise that the person sleeping beside you is a total stranger". David really clings to this line, and basically decides that Ellie's life would be better with less Stephen and more David. They briefly hook up in the bathroom, before Ellie prevents things from escalating further and dashes home to her family.

After this, there isn't much more to the plot, except: David keeps trying to remind Ellie of what happened at the club, she dodges his calls, he begins to date Courtney to get closer to Ellie, Ellie gets creeped out, he begins following Ellie and it basically continues to escalate right up until the climax, which is a real CLIFFHANGER.

Fatal Affair essentially goes for 89 minutes, because Ellie is concerned that if she tells Stephen the truth about David, she has to admit to all of the things that happened at the nightclub. Ellie wants to handle David herself, so naturally she decides to stalk him and gather evidence that he's stalking her? I'm not actually sure what her purpose is, but she does it. She stalks him back. Ellie isn't the most intelligent character in this movie, because did I mention that David is a hacker? Seemingly, he is a very good hacker. So good, that he's hired by Ellie's firm to dig up dirt on baddies. In fact, David's so good that in David's own words, "If I can hack into one of the top email providers for you, I can hack into a nightclub for me". So we've established that David's good with technology, right? Except it takes Ellie two attempts to figure out his laptop password, and Courtney gets into his phone without even needing to enter a password. David, being that you're a hacker, I'm disappointed in you for being so hackable by non-hackers. #yougothacked

Anyway, that paragraph was supposed to be about Ellie's idiocy, not David's. Ellie finds pictures of herself on David's computer and she's concerned for Courtney. So she emails Courtney about it. I get it, Courtney's not answering her phone for Ellie anymore because she thinks Ellie is obsessed with David (because her boyfriend of two minutes, tells her that, about her girlfriend of many years...Courtney's the worst). BUT ELLIE, WHY DID YOU EMAIL, COURTNEY? You are trying to warn your girlfriend about a guy who hacks emails for a living! From "top email providers" mind you. This guy is EXPERIENCED. Yeah, you guessed it, David deletes the email. Ellie also trips over a dead body that is literally lying in a doorway. I have no idea how she doesn't see it. So yeah, she isn't always the brightest character, and I was incredibly unimpressed with her life choices, but maybe I can forgive her because I guess she means well?

This film is listed as a drama and a thriller, and it certainly qualifies as both. However, some of the thrills evoke more of a laugh than an increase in tension. One particular moment that springs to mind is when David goes golfing with Stephen. David has completed a magical putt and is placing his putter back in the golf bag. However, he puts it back in such a way that it looks like he's going to beat Stephen over the head with it. It's a grand swooping motion, to put a club in a bag. Had he legitimately hit Stephen in the head, it would have made total sense. However, because he doesn't, it looks ridiculous. The only conceivable reason for David to move in this way, is because, like Deadpool, he knows that there is an audience watching, and he wants to freak them out. But it just doesn't quite work. Essentially, at no point during the film, did the thrills cause my face to do this:

Pictured: WHAT? David IS a stalker?

I was genuinely alarmed however, when David steals Ellie's lingerie and brings it home for Courtney to wear...but that is a whole different kind of fear.

The camerawork in this film, is often used to foreshadow what David's next move is. Before David is about to pick up a knife, the camera pans to a block of knives and the focus adjusts. Before David is going to set something on fire, we get an extreme close-up of a jerrycan labeled "GASOLINE". Although there isn't really anything wrong with these choices, they do tend to prevent the movie from being as tense or thrilling as it could be. This is simply because the audience is always fully aware of what David plans to do next. Although it's important that some things are well-established for viewers, like David's status as a world-class hacker, others can be left as a thrilling surprise, such as the moment when he decides to pick up a knife. The knife block itself doesn't need establishing, so I wish this shot wasn't included, and was replaced by something else that might have helped to lift the tension.

This isn't the worst film that I've watched in 2020, but it certainly isn't the best. I'd recommend giving Fatal Affair a miss.

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