Fatale: The Psychological Thriller Is Not a True Story

Fatale’ is a 2020 psychological thriller film directed by Deon Taylor and stars Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy in the lead roles. It follows Derrick Tyler, a successful sports agent whose one-night stand with a mysterious woman has drastic consequences for him. As he finds himself trapped in a dangerous game, he must find a way to clear his name from false accusations. The narrative is driven by the morally ambiguous choices of its main characters and their complicated motivations, making viewers question the realism of ‘Fatale’ and whether the story is inspired by a true incident.

The Inspiration Behind Fatale

‘Fatale’ is not based on a true story. The film is based on an original screenplay and story by writer David Loughery, who began his screenwriting career in the mid-1980s with the now cult classic science-fiction adventure film ‘Dreamscape.’ His more recent credits include movies such as ‘Shattered,’ ‘End of the Road,’ and 2019’s ‘The Intruder,’ which marks his first collaboration with director Deon Taylor, who also directed ‘Fatale.’ The film tells a fictional story about a Los Angeles-based sports agent who becomes embroiled in a dangerous game perpetrated by the woman he had a one-night stand with.

The movie’s title references the femme fatale trope and indicates the female lead character, Detective Valerie Quinlan’s true motivations. In an interview, director Deon Taylor revealed that his vision for the movie was to evoke the feeling of watching a classic 80s femme fatale movie with a modern context. He cited the 1987 thriller film ‘Fatal Attraction,’ starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, as a significant inspiration for ‘Fatale.’ Taylor also explained that he wanted to subvert the beats of a typical Hollywood thriller that deals with the themes of cheating.

Instead, the filmmaker tried to explore the idea of what would happen if a person cheats with the wrong person and gets caught up in a dangerous scheme that changes their life entirely. He further revealed that he worked deeply on the main characters’ backstories so audiences could empathize and relate with them. The main character, Derrick Tyler, is a former athlete turned businessman, and elements of his backstory were drawn from Taylor’s personal experiences.

Similarly, Detective Valerie Quinlan is a decorated officer who finds herself paying for one grave mistake she committed years ago. Her motherly yearning for her daughter allows viewers to sympathize with the character despite her misguided motivations. Hence, it is safe to say that the movie’s main characters and the narrative that links them together are not based on actual events and are entirely fictional. In a separate interview, Taylor also noted that the film attempts to create a sense of realism through the consequences Derrick faces because of his one-night stand.

The director explained that Derrick’s story was designed to reflect the social media trials and public scrutiny men experience when they are accused of a heinous crime and deemed guilty even before a fair trial. All things said, ‘Fatale’ attempts to deconstruct and subvert the femme fatale and other thriller tropes to surprise its audiences. It is a mostly fictional story that draws some inspiration from real-life socio-cultural circumstances. However, the main characters’ backstories and motivations are the significant factors behind the movie’s sense of realism.

Read More: Best Femme Fatale Movies on Netflix