Alfie ★★★½

Lewis Gilbert is not a particularly notable director — his success with ALFIE was his springboard to helming three James Bond movies — but his pairing of a strong and insightful script with the rising star of Michael Caine is a potent combination, and the supporting performances from a stellar selection of actresses give ALFIE the emotional framework that it needs to make its boorish anti-hero tolerable. A couple of times Gilbert gets a bit too explicit in expressing his disdain for Alfie, including a bookending device that likens humans to dogs and an absurd bar fight that can only be explained as an exasperated sigh of "Men!" For the most part, however, ALFIE is a provocative study of a man who, while not quite a sociopath, is a practiced compartmentalizer of inconvenient feelings — it's during his few attempts to appear considerate that Alfie is at his ignorant worst — and a class of women who so lack agency that they seem to be wholly unprepared for the impending chaos of a sexual revolution that will further empower the ALFIEs of the world in the name of their liberation.

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