Fatale (film)

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Fatale film poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDeon Taylor
Produced by
Written byDavid Loughery
Music byGeoff Zanelli
CinematographyDante Spinotti
Edited byEric L. Beason
  • Hidden Empire Film Group
  • Endeavor Content
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • December 18, 2020 (2020-12-18) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$6.6 million[1][2]

Fatale is a 2020 American thriller film directed by Deon Taylor, from a screenplay by David Loughery. It stars Hilary Swank, Michael Ealy, Mike Colter and Danny Pino. The film was theatrically released in the United States on December 18, 2020, by Lionsgate. The film has received mixed reviews from critics.


Derrick Tyler is a former college basketball star who has gone on to build a successful sports management agency in Los Angeles with his best friend Rafe Grimes, representing African-American athletes. His marriage to Tracie, a real estate agent, is failing, and he suspects she is having an affair. Rafe is also pressuring him to sell the company to a larger corporation, which Derrick, valuing his independence, refuses to do.

During a business trip to Las Vegas, Rafe encourages Derrick to vent his frustrations by having a fling of his own. Removing his wedding ring and introducing himself as Darren from Seattle, he catches the attention of a woman at a bar. She admits she is also looking for casual sex, and after flirting on the dance floor, they end up in her hotel room. While trying to sneak out the next morning, he discovers that she has locked his phone in the room safe and is coerced into having sex with her again.

Returning to LA, a guilty Derrick reconciles with Tracie. That night, Derrick hears what sounds like a break-in; investigating, he is attacked by a masked burglar and barely manages to fight him off. The police arrive and the detective assigned to the case, Valerie Quinlan, is revealed to be the woman from Las Vegas. She asks Tracie questions that have no relevance to the break-in and implies to Derrick that she could be compelled to reveal his affair or, for a price, keep silent. In her spare time, Valerie stalks her ex-husband, local politician Carter Heywood, who filed a restraining order against her after she left her service weapon unattended while drunk and their daughter Haley accidentally shot herself, leaving her using a wheelchair. Valerie has also been stripped of her custody rights and is desperate to get her daughter back, hoping a corruption scandal Carter is embroiled in will work in her favor.

During her investigation, Valerie discovers that Tracie is cheating on Derrick with Rafe. She informs Derrick of this by encouraging him to peer into the window at the beach house where they rendezvous with binoculars to see for himself. She also suggests that Tracie hired the burglar to kill Derrick. The shock and anguish is enough to briefly drive him back into Valerie's arms, before he confronts Tracie and Rafe directly and throws his wedding ring down as Tracie coldly mocks him. The next day, Derrick is arrested and Valerie tells him Tracie and Rafe were murdered soon after he left them. The suspicion this throws on Derrick ruins his reputation and the district attorney intends to file charges. Realizing Valerie committed the murders herself, Derrick confides in his cousin Tyrin who then, along with a friend, breaks into Valerie's apartment intending to force a confession, but she fights back and kills both of them. Valerie then offers to frame Tyrin instead of Derrick for Tracie and Rafe's murders if Derrick agrees to kill Carter, who has made it clear to Valerie that he can manipulate the courts in his favor and she will never see her daughter again. Derrick approaches Carter while he is jogging and attempts to warn him, but a struggle ensues and Carter is accidentally shot dead.

Derrick goes to Valerie's apartment and she admits to killing Tracie, Rafe, Tyrin and Tyrin's friend. She says she will kill anyone who prevents her getting her daughter back. He realizes this includes him and they shoot each other. As a wounded Derrick leaves, Valerie blindsides and stabs him repeatedly before he shoots her again, this time fatally. As she dies, he reveals that he recorded her confession. He goes to meet the arriving police.



In August 2018, Hilary Swank joined the cast of the film, with Deon Taylor directing from a screenplay by David Loughery. Taylor, Roxanne Avent, and Robert F. Smith will produce the film, under their Hidden Empire Film Group. Endeavor Content will also produce the film.[3] In September 2018, Michael Ealy, Mike Colter, Damaris Lewis, Tyrin Turner and Geoffrey Owens joined the cast of the film.[4][5]

Principal photography began in Los Angeles in September 2018.[6]


In August 2019, Lionsgate acquired distribution rights to the film.[7] It was initially scheduled to be released on June 19, 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[8] It was then scheduled to be released on October 30, 2020, however, it was pushed to 2021 in early October.[9] However on November 23, 2020, it was moved up to December 18, 2020.[10] It was released via video on demand on January 8, 2021 by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.


Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, Fatale was released alongside Monster Hunter and was projected to gross $1 million from 1,107 theaters in its opening weekend.[11] The film grossed $330,000 on its first day and ended up opening to $918,112, finishing third at the box office.[12][13] The film fell to sixth in its second weekend, grossing $659,825, then made $701,561 in its third weekend.[14][15]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 46% based on 65 reviews, with an average rating of 5/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "While it's better than a fair number of other adultery-fueled stalker films, Fatale fails to generate as much heat as the superior erotic thrillers it evokes."[16] Metacritic reports a weighted average score of 42 out of 100 based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[12]

Michael Ordona of the Los Angeles Times said it was fun to see Swank in a "different part" than her other films.[18] Glenn Kenny of the New York Times said that although the film "never builds up the froth of lurid delirium that brings genre pictures into a headier dimension, it's got enough juice to hold your attention". Mick LaSelle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars, saying that although the movie was "not necessarily good", the film "involves some real craftsmanship in terms of story".[19]

Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com was more critical in her review and gave the film 1 out of 4 stars, saying that it "never fulfills its promise as a lurid, guilty pleasure".[20]


  1. ^ "Fatale (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  2. ^ "Fatale (2020)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  3. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (August 10, 2018). "Hilary Swank To Star In Deon Taylor-Directed Noir Thriller 'Fatale'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  4. ^ McNary, Dave (September 17, 2018). "Michael Ealy, Mike Colter Join Hilary Swank's 'Fatale' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  5. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (September 20, 2018). "Geoffrey Owens Joins Hilary Swank In 'Fatale' Thriller". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  6. ^ Dela Paz, Maggie (September 17, 2018). "Hilary Swank Thriller Fatale Adds Michael Ealy & Mike Colter". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  7. ^ Vlessing, Etan (August 22, 2019). "Lionsgate Nabs Hilary Swank's Noir Thriller 'Fatale'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  8. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 1, 2020). "'John Wick 4' To 2022, While 'Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard', 'Spiral, 'Barb And Star' & More Head To 2021: Lionsgate Release Date Changes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  9. ^ Welk, Brian (October 9, 2020). "Colin Farrell Sci-Fi 'Voyagers' and Hilary Swank Thriller 'Fatale' Bumped to 2021 by Lionsgate". The Wrap. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  10. ^ Hemmert, Kylie (November 23, 2020). "Fatale: Hilary Swank-Led Psychological Thriller Moves Up Release Date". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  11. ^ "Weekend estimates: Monster Hunter tops domestic chart, Wonder Woman rules the rest of the world". The Numbers. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  12. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 20, 2020). "'Monster Hunter' Takes In $2.2M Over Poor Pre-Christmas Pandemic Weekend Before 'Wonder Woman 1984' Shakes Up Theatrical Window". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  13. ^ "Monster Hunter' Debuts At No. 1 in North America With $2.2 Million, While 'Wonder Woman 1984' Underwhelms Overseas". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 27, 2020). "'Wonder Woman 1984' Hits $16.7M At Domestic B.O. In Face Of HBO Max Release; Record For Pandemic, But -84% Lower Than First Pic's Opening". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  15. ^ Fuster, Jeremy (January 3, 2021). "'Wonder Woman 1984' Reaches $118 Million Worldwide, But Pandemic Forces 67% Domestic Drop". TheWrap. Archived from the original on January 3, 2021. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  16. ^ "Fatale (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  17. ^ "Fatale Reviews". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  18. ^ "Review: Hilary Swank is the femme, but is she 'Fatale'?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  19. ^ "Review: Hilary Swank is a smiling, seductive, stone-cold psycho in 'Fatale'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  20. ^ "Fatale movie review & film summary (2020)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved December 21, 2020.

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