After Hours (1985)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Urban Comedy  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Perry Seibert

Paul is trying to get into Marcy's apartment. She tosses her keys down to him. Scorsese gives the audience the shot from the keys' point of view. They hurtle ominously towards Paul. This is a quick but quintessential moment in After Hours, a film that has the feel of a nightmare where nothing goes right and trouble can suddenly occur out of nowhere. Although lots of strange things happen to Paul over the course of his night in SoHo (he's hunted by a vigilante mob, nearly has his head shaved, and gets encased in plaster of paris to name just three), the sequences are directed with a certain amount of reality. Viewers are given the sense that the events in this film, however improbable, are possible. Griffin Dunne does a fine job with the tricky role of Paul. His character, after making the decision to go to Marcy's apartment, is almost totally passive. Events happen to him. While it would be easy to dislike such a put-upon character, Dunne makes the viewer sympathize with Paul because he always tries to extricate himself from the situation he is in without harming anyone else. He is desperate to get away from Teri Garr's beehived waitress, but the way he submits to her requests will gain the goodwill of the audience. Desperate to work on any project after Paramount cancelled The Last Temptation of Christ four days before that film was supposed to go before the camera, Scorsese quickly became attached to After Hours. Because Paul is unable to do what he wants and powerless to change his situation, it is tempting to assume that Scorsese felt a strong affinity for his protagonist. Armed with numerous stylistic touches and a noir sensibility, After Hours is a dark comedy that allowed a fine director to exorcise his career frustrations.