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AFTERGLOW

SYNOPSIS:
In the city of Montreal, corporate climber Jeffrey Byron (Jonny Lee Miller) is about to close another lucrative business deal. His wife Marianne Byron (Lara Flynn Boyle) is desperate to have a baby; Marianne tracks her fertility cycle, while Jeffrey tracks the stock market. Across town, Lucky ‘Fix-It’ Mann (Nick Nolte), a repair contractor arrives home, and finds his wife, Phyllis Mann (Julie Christie), a former B-movie actress, in a nostalgic haze, watching tapes of her old films. As usual. The marriage is in limbo, Lucky free to womanise as he will, because Phyllis’s bed is cold. There is something in the past that haunts them, debilitates them both. The other couple are younger, but equally debiloitated. The four characters begin interacting when Marianne phones Lucky for repairs and he offers to repair more than the lock on her door. Separately, both Phyllis and Jeffrey track them, discovering, not just the lovers, but each other, amidst the pain.

"As unpredictable as life itself, Afterglow is an essay on human emotions, vulnerabilities, desires and making choices. The juxtaposition of the two different marriages highlights complexities that delve deep below the surface, and explore the frailties and charms of the human condition and its relationships. Beginning superficially, we gleam what is important to each individual: Jeffrey is excited by the impossibility of things; Marianne is besotted by falling pregnant; Phyllis lives in the past through her films; Lucky copes with his past by fooling around. But we haven’t started scratching the surface. As the outer layers of each character unfolds, the facades are stripped away, confidences exchanged and souls bared. Delving deep into the fascinating peaks and chasms of relationships, Afterglow’s wonderfully biting script is filled with pathos, humour, tragedy and complexity. The distance between comedy and tragedy after all is very small. Beautifully shot, with a haunting, soulful jazz score, the performances are stunning - with Nick Nolte and Julie Christie each bringing their solid experience strongly to the spotlight. But the film really belongs to Christie, who gives an extraordinary performance: in one scene at the Ritz Carlton bar, she will totally break your heart, with not a sound - but with a tear-filled look that sears right through to the soul. There are some wonderful lines, and Christie has many of them. Afterglow is a magnificent journey into the shades, colours and intricacies of the human condition."
Louise Keller

"It seems highly probable that director Alan Rudolph and producer Robert Altman one night in pre-production (over a solid burgundy) came up with the line that is the subtitle to this film: ‘a comedy of tears’. Such is life. While the structure and conflict of the two couples in the story is obvious – and hauntingly echoes some aspects of the unforgettable Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – it is HOW Rudolph and his cast deliver this poignant four hander that counts. And they DO deliver. (As did they all in Mike Nichols’ film.) Only the final shot in Afterglow (which I won’t disclose) could be criticised for overt sentimentality and is quite superfluous. The rest of this marvellous film is emotionally gripping, intellectually satisfying and profoundly moving. That’s old fashioned, I know, but we are never more engaged than when we are witnessing the agony and the ecstasy of individuals coping with the kinds of problems with which we are all personally familiar: interpersonal relationships in all their glory and all their pain. The script never insults our intelligence, the actors are never found to be merely acting and the cinematic language is always more than a cynical device. For example, a sparsely used 360 degree camera swivel prompts our subconscious; Mark Isham’s splendid music likewise; the selection of cuts between scenes is exquisite. The whole film is a genuine pleasure – welded in place with pain."
Andrew L. Urban

"Alan Rudolph is one of America's most idiosyncratic and individual film makers, a protégé of Altman (who produces his films) and a director who doesn't believe in pap endings. Afterglow is a far more satisfying film than his dull Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle, and while full of obvious imperfections, the film is still a fascinating, sardonically amusing but deeply sad look at human behaviour through the eyes of four lonely and tragic human beings. The film is not as quirky or as visually stylised as much of Rudolph's early work, possibly because as a writer he has learnt about the art of self-discipline and has thus crafted a quartet of intricate characters in this poignant journey of past secrets, betrayal, parenthood and loss. Perhaps the film's major problem lies in the obvious diversity of its casting two pairs of actors representing two very different styles of screen acting. Neither Jonny Lee Miller nor Lara Flynn Boyle have the experience or psychological make-up to convey the genuine honesty of these characters. Their emotional outbursts have an obvious ring to them, they're unsubtle and hollow. On the other hand, Nick Nolte and Julie Christie, through their own life's experiences, present us with the purest and most honest of performances, and on screen together, they're magic, and that's what film stardom is all about. But Afterglow belongs to Christie. In a year of comebacks, hers is the most illuminating comeback of them all. Still hauntingly beautiful, the camera focuses not only on the exterior, but on a genuine sense of pain, anger, and even wry humour that the actress brings to the role and the screen. She's simply extraordinary, and the purity of her performance is well deserving of an Oscar. In an industry where movie stardom is fleeting and rather innocuous, along comes Julie Christie to shine on the screen once again. For her alone, Afterglow is worth a visit."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT:
Favourable: 4
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

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AFTERGLOW (M)
(US)

CAST: Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Lara Flynn Boyle, Jonny Lee Miller

DIRECTOR: Alan Rudolph

PRODUCER: Robert Altman

SCRIPT: Alan Rudolph

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Toyomichi Kurita

EDITOR: Suzy Elmiger

MUSIC: Mark Isham

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Francois Seguin

RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Globe

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 30, 1998

VIDEO RELEASE: Mar 31, 1999
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International






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