American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Strange, that "Alfie" (1966) is halfway remembered as a comedy, when it was actually about a man who attempted to live life as comedy despite the lowering gloom which he thoroughly deserved. Alfie, in 1966 and again in the 2004 version, desperately wants to keep smiling, have a great time, and be lover to a parade of women who are willing and friendly, and never complain, and make no demands, and understand his need to be unfaithful. Such a woman, if she exists, would not be worth having, but tell that to Alfie.
Michael Caine made "Alfie" and "The Ipcress File" (1965) back to back, and they made him a star. He had a brash Cockney self-confidence that suggested a hardness beneath the kidding around. Jude Law is already a movie star, currently one of the busiest, and in "Alfie" he is less a predator than Caine, more a needy hedonist who is wounded and even surprised when women won't put up with him.
Of course he meets a different kind of woman in 2004 than Caine met in 1966; the feminist revolution, the rise and fall of the one-night stand and the specter of AIDS all happened between those two dates, and today a compulsively promiscuous man is more of a danger to himself and his partners than he was then. In 1966, the worst thing Alfie brings about is an abortion; in the 2004 version, his greatest crime is essentially to throw away the love of the only woman he really cares for.
That would be Julie (Marisa Tomei), who is honest and grounded and has a young son to care for, and absolutely will not share Alfie with other women. Of course for a time she doesn't know about the other women. Alfie confesses, in one of his rueful speeches directly to the camera, that the tricky thing about dating a woman with a kid is that you get to really like the kid. It's also tricky, as Alfie discovers, when you get to like the woman.