Monday 15 October 2012

After Hours [1985]

Martin Scorsese captured New York City after hours with nightmarish effect in TaxiDriver; he did that again in the aptly titled and criminally underrated gem After Hours. Referred to by one critic as the “male rendition of Alice in Wonderland”, this delirious, Kafkaesque comedy about a man trapped in a hellish, surreal and seemingly inescapable nightmare, was a pungent satire on urban paranoia, and the life-sucking monotony and emotional bankruptcy of corporate desk-jobs. The man in question is Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), a bored, lonely and disenchanted word processor in a large corporation, who takes the impulsive decision of taking a cab one night, from his upscale Manhattan residence to SoHo, in order to meet the young woman (Rosanna Arquette) he chanced upon in a lonely café. What ensues is a series of bizarre developments – each more demented than the one preceding – which doesn’t just put Paul’s sedate and morose existence into utter chaos and disarray, it takes him to the very edge of sanity and human reasoning within the space of a few hours. The script was gleefully unpredictable – enough to leave the viewers as exasperated as the hapless protagonist; yet, it was also expertly paced, and in some ways believable too despite the fantastical developments. The film was also visually engaging; it memorably began with a spectacular zoom-in of the protagonist, and ended with an audacious single-take tracking shot within a crowded office floor. Dunne did a fine job at effectively portraying his character’s unforgettable physical and psychological journey and in getting the audience too emotionally involved in this devilish and incredibly engaging film.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Social Satire
Language: English
Country: US


Omar said...

My favourite Scorsese film after Taxi Driver - a dazzling masterpiece and a noirish exercise in male anxieties. Nice write up!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Omar. I wouldn't place it at par with the likes of Taxi Driver (which of course you've placed higher), Raging Bulls or Mean Streets. But then, that just speaks volumes on the number of marvelous films that Marty has made.