I noticed the reoccurring use of water in the movie Fatal Attraction. When they first have the affair, the water from the sink appears. Then in the rabbit scene, there is boiling water. And at the end, Alex is drowned in water (I probably forgot to mention a few other incidents). The cinematography is very clever about focusing on the water, especially on the faucets which disperse the water. What could the water be symbolizing? I know there's not an objective answer, but I'm curious to see what others think.

3 Answers 3


In order to understand the use of water in an Adrian Lyne film, you should probably look more widely at the use of water in his complete body of work. Lolita frolics under a sprinkler, Flashdance has its famous water dance, there's the bathtub scene in Jacob's Ladder, and Unfaithful has horseplay with water pistols, a car wash, a sink sponging, and a bath scene. It may be less about symbolism than about artistic preference.

Writing about his interview with Adrian Lyne regarding his "thing with water," Jeffrey Lantos says:

Yo, Adrian! What's with you and water? You got soggy subway stations, you got buckets of water falling on strippers, you got ice cubes dripping down breasts, you got people screwing in puddles and sinks, you got more rainstorms than Costa Rica. Even your roads are wet. "Water looks good on skin. It's evocative. And wet roads look better than dry roads." Oh, c'mon, I say, it's gotta be more than that. Isn't there some subliminal message you're sending? Adrian Lyne smiles and shrugs. "It must be some obscure thing from childhood."

Flashdance Jacob's Ladder Lolita Unfaithful


I seem to recall that the tide coming in was often used as a metaphor for intercourse in older films.

I cannot really remember the film but perhaps water is symbolising lust - being released from taps, becoming dangerous when boiling and becoming calm and relaxed again with the (apparent) death of Alex.

I stress that I have no expertise in this area and this is merely virtual guesswork!

  • Thanks for the insight. Indeed, one thing the water can symbolize is lust. Water seems to go along with the whole flow of the plot, when finally at the climax there is a full tub of water, which is used to destroy the antagonist. I looked through a few of the scenes again, and rain is also used often. When they decide to get a cab together, Dan is struggling to make his umbrella work in the rain, which is when she intervenes. Also, after Alex cuts her wrists, water from the faucet is used to clean the wounds, and there is pouring rain outside afterwards. It's all very perplexing. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 2:53
  • To continue the metaphor of water meaning list. Alex is unable to satisfy his lust/erect his umbrella and Alex arrives offering relief from the rain/sex. Not sure how cleaning we wound fits in though ... it has been years and years since I saw it, maybe I should watch it again
    – Stefan
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 9:30
  • Water is traditionally used as a metaphor for rebirth - not particularly relevant in Fatal Attraction though. BTW - did you know the film was based on Madam Butterfly? The international version was different from the US release, which made Alex more of a monster, less of a victim.
    – Nobby
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 11:44

I think too, that the water symbolizes purity..(clean & pure) which to me reenforces the wrongful act of the affair. Also somehow, during other scenes such as the scene where she is washing dishes, the water symbolizes sensuality.

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