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The white t-shirt she wears outlines a shape around her body that recalls the Venus de Milo, symbol of beauty, but a crease near her stomach creates the fleeting but unavoidable illusion of a straightjacket.At once irresistible and insane, Alex is every 1990s man’s nightmare.Dan and Alex’s hookup occurs when Dan’s wife Beth (Anne Archer) is out of town with their six-year-old daughter Ellen; when Beth returns, Alex doesn’t back off but ramps up her attempts to get in touch with Dan, knowingly putting him in danger of being discovered.
(1960) — had planted the seed of this perpetual malaise.
In the early 1990s, absurdly muscular beasts such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger had began losing their place as models of a new ideal of masculinity.
In the context of Alex’s destructive behaviour, however, her feminism is ridiculed, demonised and made terrifying.
In a 2013 interview with CBS News, Glenn Close explained that although she consulted two psychiatrists to prepare for the role, “never [once] did a mental disorder come up.” Since the film’s release, Alex’s behaviour has indeed been attributed by psychology experts to her suffering from erotomania, a delusional condition also known as de Clérembault’s syndrome, where the person affected believes that another person is secretly in love with them and can find proof of that affection in everything that person does.
Suicide is thus not taken seriously and made repulsive, presented as an ultimate act of horror rather than an opportunity for empathy.
Moreover, after Dan literally saves her life out of pity (and to avoid having her death on his conscience), Alex goes quiet for a while, but then returns more vengeful than ever, and the empathy that one may have developed for her is foiled.
Defined by at once a return to and an exaggeration of traditional male characteristics of physical prowess, bravery and American exceptionalism, they were fantasy figures, offering both idealism and escapism to both their male and female audiences.
As the financial frenzy was shaking Western consumerist society in the late 1980s, feminism was on the cusp of its third wave, which would come crashing against gender expectations like never before, and focus more on women as individuals than as a unified group.
Alex’s reaction to Dan’s eventual rejection, however, can also be read as a warning against desirous and independent women.
Despite knowing about Dan’s situation, she wants him to “face up to [his] responsibilities,” and she is not simply referring to her being pregnant with his child.