Thursday, February 17, 2011

#62: After Hours

Scorcese ! One of the most versatile, enduring and awe-inspiring directors of our times had a terribly tough time in 1985. This was when his project, The Last Temptation of Christ wasn't getting off the ground because of the controversial subject it was tackling. He wasn't finding any financiers for the project when he was approached with the script of After Hours. It was a tough time for Marty particularly because this was a subject very close to his heart and letting it go nearly brought him to depression.In an extra feature on the DVD, Marty expresses how After Hours came at this opportune time and helped him focus his energies constructively.

It is the story of Paul(Griffin Dunne) a word processing executive whose life beyond work is as banal as it could get. In a chance meeting, when he's dining alone, he strikes up a conversation with Marcy(Rosanna Arquette) in a restaurant. A natural chemistry results in Paul soon finding himself in the company of Kiki (Linda Fiorentino), Marcy's room-mate in an apartment. It's the story of how Paul survives a night that has full of surprises packed for him.

The movie is extremely engrossing to begin with building a sense of intrigue about the characters of Kiki and Marcy. All you know by the first 20 minutes is that Paul is a simpleton looking to have a good time. As the story unfolds, Paul senses that things aren't turning out the way they were supposed to be and wants to get back home. But a series of incidents start paving the way for a hellish night for Paul. The movie is a heady concoction of eccentric characters in realistic situations working in unison to prevent Paul from heading back home.

At 97 minutes, After Hours is a mix of some neat performances stitched together by some tight direction. A scene of a bunch of keys falling from the top floor of a building right onto Paul's feet is a sign of dexterous minds at work and is one of the many scenes that will leave a lasting imprint on your memory. The ending of the movie though is a tad underwhelming and might leave you disenchanted.

Made at a fairly restricted budget, After Hours is undoubtedly a reliable movie. It's strength is the constant stream of surprises that keep coming at you. What we should be really grateful for is that more than anything else, the movie kept Marty alive and kicking. In his own words, this was the cinematic equivalent of hope and resurgence of faith in his career. And sure enough, he did return with The Last Temptation of Christ,just three years later.


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