Movie of the Week: After Hours (1985)

Martin Scorsese directs Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette and Linda Fiorentino in this dark comedy where a yuppie travels across the city for a late night hook-up only to find himself trapped in an existential nightmare.

One of those comedies that is more awkward, disturbing and unsettling than laugh out loud funny… and this is all the better for it. Scorsese’s 1980s output has always been an overlooked bag of initially critically ignored classics and studio work. After Hours and The Color of Money are two of his finest films but because they are often written off as gun-for-hire projects taken while he was trying to get The Last Temptation of Christ off the ground nobody really champions them. These ain’t no holding pattern day jobs, these are fantastic films. Now watching After Hours with modern, mature eyes is a still very strange, unique, immersive experience. Dunne’s lead is a horrible human being, almost deserving of his night in urban hell and sexual frustration. The gender politics are murky, intentionally so. Dunne goes from a meet-cute with the warmly open and hotly desirable Arquette (perfect here) to downgrading every other scene change to a more disturbed, complex, domineering, demanding, dowdier woman. What does this say about masculinity /desire / relationships? I don’t know… but you feel his anguish as he crashes in and out of other human beings emotions, neuroses and lust. There’s violent escalation, manic mob mentality and slapstick paranoia. It is possibly the only big budget comedy where there is an odds on chance our hero will be lynched or castrated or imprisoned for life by the final shot. And who knows, maybe he is incarcerated at close of play? I reckon Paul Hackett will never let his dick take him on a walk on the wild side again. Awesome production design by Jefferey Townsend and Stephen Lineweaver. The score and editing by Howard Shore and Thelma respectively is utterly persuasive. The perfect Triple Bill with Adventures in Babysitting and Quick Change. What other Marty Scorsese flick could you say that about? And it is funny… watching John Heard’s bartender beat the shit out of his cash register is observational aggression at its chucklesome best.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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