After Hours

Review No. 459

The biggest disappointment is that “After Hours” ends after only an hour and a half.


Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Joseph Minion
Marcy Franklin: Rosanna Arquette
June: Verna Bloom
Pepe: Tommy Chong
Paul Hackett: Griffin Dunne
Kiki Bridges: Linda Fiorentino
Julie: Teri Garr
Tom Schorr: John Heard
Neil: Cheech Marin
Gail: Catherine O’Hara
Also Starring: Bronson Pinchot, Clarence Felder, Dick Miller, Larry Block, Martin Scorsese, Rocco Sisto, Victor Argo, Will Patton

Distributed by Warner Bros. on September 13, 1985. Produced in English by the United States. Runs 97 mins. Rated R by the MPAA–mature themes, nudity, profanity, sexual situations, mild violence.

After Hours was watched on March 30, 2013.

“What do you want from me? I’m just a word processor!” –Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne)

I guess it goes without saying that I’ve recently become more and more of a Martin Scorsese diehard. Perhaps it’s not all too obvious, though, why I love the filmmaker so much. It’s because the man has an eclectic taste when it comes to the movies. Scorsese, of course, is known for his use of graphic violence and his love for the crime genre. Raging Bull. The Departed. GoodFellas. He’s also a visionary director with an irresistible eye for cities. Hugo. The Aviator. And, the cream of the crop, After Hours. The film designs such a mind-blowing nighttime atmosphere, you can’t watch the movie without feeling it as well.

After Hours is just as much a powerfully involving movie, as far as its story. It opens with a deep, quiet mood of the city during its nighttime state. Quiet, but certainly not calm or peaceful. The film grows more and more unsettling and, at the same time, more and more amusing. Our hero in this comedy-drama is Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), “just a word processor” who just wants a bit of fun. Considering that’s what all humans want after a long day of work, it’s all too easy to side with him. It’s 11:32 PM when he decides to have a bit of fun: he is invited over to SoHo to take a break with a spunky woman named Marcy (Rosanna Arquette), whom he had met earlier at a coffee shop.

On his way over, Paul accidentally loses a twenty-dollar bill and is unable to pay his taxi driver. When he tries to explain his fluke, the taxi driver drives off in disbelief. Paul’s character is crafted very poignantly, and when he makes small mistakes like these, we either laugh or commiserate. We don’t even realize them as mistakes, but slowly and surely, they’re building up and giving him the worst night of his life.

After Hours is a movie that feels like a fantasy. The movie echoes the trademark style of David Lynch, creating a bizarre, dreamlike effect out of its own best resources–writer Joseph Minion, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, musician Howard Shore. The plot itself enacts a dubious and perhaps fantastical tone: It’s very rare that a man with this job would be offered a night so great and end up with a night so god-awful. It’s almost like a nightmare in this sense. And at the same time, it’s about as far from a nightmare as you can fathom–After Hours ended after only an hour and a half. I was begging for a longer stay.

A PLUS

TOMORROW, ON CINEMANIAC REVIEWS...

TOMORROW, ON CINEMANIAC REVIEWS…

Boxcar Bertha

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7 thoughts on “After Hours

    • Thanks, Charles!

      I actually came across Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide write up recently:

      “Ordinary guy goes through a series of bizarre experiences during one incredible night in N.Y.C. How much you enjoy this comic nightmare will depend on how closely you identify with Dunne— the only normal person in the picture!”

      He gave it two and a half stars, but the review is spot on. Guess After Hours is just too “different” for some.

    • Thanks Brad! Glad you enjoy it so much! You seem to have very eclectic tastes in movies, so I was actually surprised you were so familiar with this one. Underrated, indeed!

      I think if there’s any unoriginality in After Hours, it’s that Paul Hackett follows the “misunderstood guy with good intentions” archetype. It’s been used several times, of course–Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, Jean Valjean in Les Misrables, and Lester Burnham in American Beauty to name a few. But I’d actually love to see more characters like him. He’s so familiar! 🙂

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