By today’s standards, The Fan slips easily into mediocrity as it follows the tale of an obsessed fan who goes to extreme measures to win the heart of his centre of attention.
There is a notable exception though that boosts the appeal factor of the viewer to the subject, its stars.
As the object of affection is the simply brilliant Lauren Bacall, playing Sally Ross, an actress of the stage and screen. As you can expect, Bacall is magnificent in this role, amping up the moments that she’s in the spotlight, playing the catty diva at times in rehearsals, but showing heart with those closest to her, and a mixture of vulnerability and forelonging for the love she lost, her ex-husband Jake (James Garner).
It’s Michael Biehn though that steals the show as the deranged and cold-blooded psycho killer, Douglas Breen. He is suitably driven by his warped sense of reality and fascination with Sally and will stop at nothing to get closer to her.
The pursuit itself is played out well and meticulously slow as he attempts to get closer to Sally, but often blocked along the way. It suddenly makes his casting of Kyle Reese in The Terminator by James Cameron, a stroke of genius. When we first meet Reese, the audience is unsure if he’s a killer/stalker out to get Sarah Conner. Of course when the reveal happens there, we realise he’s her saviour and the rest of cinema history is set. Here though, Biehn’s character of Douglas remains dark and deadly, where we’re only allowed a window into his soul through the narrated letters he sends to Sally.
By the films conclusion, admittedly The Fan comes across as a tired formula and predictable, but I have to admit that i still enjoyed the ride and it has a lot to do with watching both Bacall and Biehn’s performance, grounding them into reality and with that believability, so that despite the faults that Sally Ross bears, we do care for her and the journey that Douglas goes through is one we connect with. Albeit not quite as deranged, but the feeling of abandonment and confusion in a society where we don’t belong at times, is often resonant.
I’d definitely recommend this if it hasn’t crossed your path before.
- Saul Muerte