Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Joseph Minion
Featuring: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, Verna Bloom, Tommy Chong, Teri Garr, John Heard. Cheech Marin, Catherine O’Hara, Will Patton, Dick Miller
Paul is an office drone, a ‘word processor’, after another drudge of a day at work he meets a young girl in a cafe and later decided to see her again on the pretext of buying something from the sculptor she lives with. After getting to her apartment everything in Paul’s life spirals out of control as desperately tries to put things right and just get back home.
Made in 1985 Scorsese’s lesser-known black comedy seen through the lens of 2019 is a strange little movie. Increasingly it reminded me of a wacky BBC comedy of errors, including the usual well-known faces, Teri Garr, William Heard, Catherine O’Hara all turn up like some Terry and June episode. Although the story is undoubtedly dark and adult unfortunately the escalating farcical nature of what happens is the type of story that has always annoyed the heck out of me – when the old 1970s British sitcoms did it, when Frasier did it, it annoyed me, characters doing stupid things that lead onto even more stupid events when all anyone ever has to do is talk to each other – I would say it’s an age thing but it’s not, it annoyed me as a teenager.
Having said that the acting is quirky and fun with the highly underrated Griffin Dunne supplying an almost pitch-perfect nervous, fraught ‘little man’ up to his neck in circumstances he cannot understand in a world he does not live in, even though to be honest it was not a sympathetic or likeable character, hopefully this was purposeful. Along the way we get to see ‘quirky’ characters who populate Soho ‘after hours’. Rosanna Arquette and an almost unrecoganisable Linda Fiorentino share a flat in what seems to start off as an off-kilter love story but veers into weird-land and there the film and story stays.
Therein is the problem with the film, it starts off comedic almost romantic and then careers off the road into a dark territory where we see people having sex ala a ‘Rear Window’ device and then an out and out cold-blooded murder, there’s suicide the list is wackily endless. But I didn’t find it wacky and the longer it went on the more I felt that I just wanted Paul to get home.
You can certainly see in some shots and framing Scorsese honing his skills for his future output but in someways this is also a problem for me as the film seems a practice, a students work if you will, before the director got better.
After Hours is not bad but it seems a film not made for my tastes, it was something I was happy to watch, was very 80s in the style and cinematography but not anything I would watch again unless it was on a channel I was flicking through late at night. I did not laugh much for a comedy, black or not.