Afterglow (1997)

Though Julie Christie copped an Oscar nod, you do wonder just how 
many Academy voters actually sat *through* this torturous film.  
Writer/director Alan Rudolph (MRS. PARKER AND THE VICIOUS CIRCLE) 
is responsible for this dreadfully uneven drama about a pair of 
whacked-out Canadian couples, one old (Christie and Nick Nolte), 
one new (Lara Flynn Boyle and Jonny Lee Miller), and both of whom 
end up in affairs with one or the other's spouse.  Let's see, the 
intermittenly believable plot goes something like this:  Nolte's 
randy handyman is, ah, "servicing" Boyle's high-priced housewife, 
while her corporate cutthroat hubby, played by the morose Mr. Mil-
ler, is pursuing the handyman's wife, a booze-swilling ex-B-movie 
queen, played by Christie.  And, of course, neither affair knows 
about the other.  (Also in the mix:  Boyle's character is obsessed 
with having a baby, while Christie's is mourning the loss of a 
teenage daughter, who ran away from home several years ago.  Oh, 
and neither husband is sleeping with their wife.  Got it?)

Surrounded on more than a few sides by bad acting, silly dialogue, 
and absurd characterizations, Ms. Christie still walks away with 
her dignity intact.  (If she wins, maybe we'll see a new category: 
Best Performance by an Actor in an Otherwise Lousy Movie.)  Nolte 
rates second-best, despite a 'do that makes his head look like the 
site of a tornado touch-down.  (His scenes with Christie are quite 
good.  And, even when things get silly, his face will flash with 
intelligence, as if thinking "I know it's crap, but I'm getting 
paid.")  As for the others, neither Boyle nor Miller can be taken 
seriously, their acting as off-kilter as their character's motives.  
(Cut their scenes and you might have something!)  Even the music 
cues get funnier as they go.  (Are we *supposed* to laugh in the 
last scene, when Tom Waits takes on "Somewhere?")  Thank God for 
the finale, which Rudolph stages like a dress rehearsal for the 
Jerry Springer Show.  There's yelling and screaming and kicking and 
cursing-- enough sparks, truth be told, that I'm *almost* glad I 
didn't walk out.  Almost.  (Rated "R"/118 min.)

Grade: D+

Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: March 1, 1998

Home   |   Recommended   |   Reviews   |   Views   |   Letters   |   Links   |   FAQ   |   Search!

Please report problems to
Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros