There's a great morality tale lurking somewhere within the new independent feature AFTERGLOW directed by Alan Rudolph, the critically-acclaimed protégé of director Robert Altman. At times a heartbreaking depiction of the ravages of adultery, AFTERGLOW stars Lara Flynn Boyle as Marianne Byron, the neglected childless wife of Jeffrey Byron, played by Jonny Lee Miller. Jeff is a rich, conceited businessman in Montreal, Canada who has become emotionally detached from other people and sexually disinterested in his beautiful young wife. Marianne, however, wants to have a baby, and, when Jeff refuses, she starts an affair with blue-collar handyman, Lucky Mann, played by Nick Nolte. Lucky has his own problems. An argument nine years ago with his wife Phyllis, played by Julie Christie, has led to a sexless marriage, a runaway daughter, a depressed wife, and a sexually promiscuous husband. Phyllis meanwhile finds out about Lucky's affair with Marianne and almost consummates an affair with Jeff out of spite.
Although the movie depicts the destructiveness that accompanies adultery and has an artistically impressive and morally positive ending, it is a frank, slightly comical and modern portrayal with four likable main characters, all of which makes the characters' sexual misadventures too appealing.
(H, B, LL, V, Ho, NN, SSS, A, D, M). Humanist worldview with moral elements including scenes showing the ravages of adultery & a morally redemptive ending; 5 obscenities & 8 profanities; two fight scenes with pushing, shoving, yelling, & wrestling; minor character indirectly announces his homosexuality; brief upper male & female nudity in a sexual context & scenes of women in revealing nightgowns; one graphic adultery scene, depicted adultery between two married couples, sexual recollections, husband refuses to father a baby with his wife who gets pregnant without him, & wife refuses her husband sex but lets him have escapades; alcohol & drug use; miscellaneous immorality.
There’s a great morality tale lurking somewhere within the new independent feature AFTERGLOW. Directed by Alan Rudolph, the critically-acclaimed protégé of director Robert Altman, AFTERGLOW depicts the social, psychological and heartbreaking ravages of adultery but often takes a comic, wry tone in its tale of a young neglected wife attracted to an older home repairman.
Lara Flynn Boyle plays Marianne Byron, the neglected childless wife of Jeffrey Byron (Jonny Lee Miller). Jeff is a rich, conceited businessman in Montreal, Canada who’s become emotionally detached from other people and sexually disinterested in his beautiful young wife. Marianne, however, wants to have a baby. When Jeff refuses, she tells him, “I’ll have a baby with or without you.” She starts an affair with blue-collar handyman, Lucky Mann (Nick Nolte), who’s remodeling a bedroom into a children’s room for her.
Lucky has troubles of his own. His beautiful wife of 24 years, Phyllis (Julie Christie), has refused to have sex with him because of a major argument nine years ago over their daughter Cassie. Before the argument, Phyllis revealed to Mann that Cassie is not his own child but was the result of a one-night stand she had with a movie actor while Lucky was on duty in the Navy early in their marriage. Mann got drunk and came back to the house yelling angry things at Phyllis, including the fact that Cassie is not his daughter. Cassie ran away to Montreal feeling unloved by both parents. Lucky and Phyllis moved to Montreal to find Cassie but failed, although Phyllis says she keeps seeing Cassie on the street. Because of their sexual estrangement, Phyllis allows Lucky to have sexual escapades with his rich clients.
When Jeff learns his young wife Marianne is having an affair with Lucky, he follows them to their rendezvous in a ritzy bar. There, he only finds Phyllis, who has been spying on Lucky and Marianne at the bar. Phyllis is upset about some of the comments she apparently heard Lucky make to Marianne about his relationship with his wife and allows Jeff to flirt with her. The next day, Phyllis goes with Jeff on the business trip that he wanted his wife to take until their argument and her affair with Lucky. Things don’t go well on the trip, however. Phyllis and Jeff don’t consummate their affair but everyone finds out about the trip and about Lucky’s affair with Marianne. Jeff and Lucky have two pushing and shoving fights at the bar and at Jeff and Marianne’s home.
The last scenes of the movie end on a heartbreaking, redemptive, hopeful note. Lucky unexpectedly sees Cassie and tearfully apologizes to her. That scene cuts to Lucky arriving home where he tenderly consoles Phyllis, who’s crying hysterically over her lost daughter and broken marriage, while the face of Cassie appears in the window, the prodigal daughter ready to return.
Director Alan Rudolph, who also wrote the screenplay for AFTERGLOW, takes an ironic, comic tone to parts of this story, especially in the wry puns on the name of Nick Nolte’s character, Lucky Mann, and during the scenes of Phyllis and Jeff’s “business trip.” Although the movie depicts the destructiveness that accompanies adultery and has an artistically impressive and morally positive ending, it is a frank, ironic and modern portrayal. Director Rudolf elegantly captures the dramatic poetry of his characters. The four main leads expertly play four likable, though troubled people, but they are photographed in such attractive surroundings that the movie sometimes makes their sexual misadventures too appealing, which dilutes the moral message of the movie.
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