FATALE – Review by Susan Granger

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As the titular femme fatale, Hilary Swank seems ready to boil a bunny in this pulpy-noir thriller.

Former college basketball star, Derrick (Michael Ealy), has become a wildly successful sports agent whose minimalist Hollywood Hills home is magnificent, complete with a spectacular infinity pool and a flashy sports car out front.

But his marriage to truculent Tracie (Demaris Lewis), a real estate agent, seems to be floundering, and he’s disappointed that his best-friend/business partner Rafe (Mike Colter) wants to sell their company to William Morris Endeavor at a huge profit.

On a trip to Las Vegas to attend a bachelor party, Derrick ditches his wedding ring and embarks on a one-night stand with tempting Val (Hilary Swank) whom he meets in a bar – obviously banking on the slogan: “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Soon after, there’s a violent home invasion in which a masked man tries to kill Derrick. Summoning the police, he is stunned to discover that the LAPD detective in charge is Val – actually, Valerie Quinlan, who has problems of her own. She’s fighting her nasty, politically-connected ex-husband (Danny Pino) to regain custody of their young daughter.

Scheming, spiteful and obsessed, psychopathic Val is determined to leave a wake of destruction wherever she goes, telling Derrick: “Our actions have repercussions…You used me in Vegas. Now I’m gonna use you.”

Problem is: two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby), who also served as a producer, is decidedly unsexy in a role that calls for a sultry, seductive quality that she’s apparently unable to summon.

Formulaically scripted by David Laughery, perhaps as an update to Fatal Attraction/Strangers on a Train, it’s a murky melodrama, mis-directed by Deon Taylor (The Intruder) with a distracting subplot involving Derrick’s ex-con cousin (Tyrin Turner).

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Fatale is a tacky, tawdry 3 – more sleazy than slick.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.