Any attempt to film Bob Randalls stylish original 1978 novel, which was written in a wholly epistolatory style (that is, the entire story was relayed only through letters and memos) is something that seems necessarily doomed to inadequacy by the very nature of filming the book. The film at least makes occasional attempt to approximate this, having various letters read out. More aggravatingly however, it changes the books jolting twist ending for a more traditional and upbeat one.
56 year-old Lauren Bacall made a celebrated return to the screen with The Fan. (She had not appeared in a leading role for more than two decades). However, she is rather awful she seems to be only barely resisting the desire to give an arch reading. The problem is that Lauren Bacall is an old school actress of the 1940s who was used to playing as a larger-than-life star. Film acting since became something quieter and more intimately observed. The role requires someone who can play it more restrained, seem convincingly afraid, rather than give it a grand old Bette Davis-type airing. Her exchanges with equally out-of-place James Garner are dreadful, with she having to deliver lines like: I want to give too, not take, and now will you get the hell out of here. The moments that she does soar are however in the excellent musical numbers, where she gives a wonderfully husky rendition during the Hearts Not Diamonds number.
Director Edward Bianchi is a sometimes stylish director with an eye for cold pictorial glitter. Best of all is Pino Donaggios stunning score, which comes over the credits wound in and around Michael Biehns narration of one of his letters with chopping staccato blocks of strings and a thunderous vibrato urgency.
Despite the similarity of titles and themes, this film is otherwise unrelated to The Fan (1996), which featured Robert De Niro as a celebrity sports stalker.