A meek word processor impulsively travels to Manhattan's Soho District to date an attractive but apparently disturbed young woman and finds himself trapped there in a nightmarishly surreal vortex of improbable coincidences and farcical circumstances. Written by
When Neil and Pepe flee from Paul in the van (the first time), the engine can be heard revving as they speed away although the brake lights are on. See more »
[Paul and Lloyd in front of a computer terminal]
Alright, punch. Punch it in.
Okay, let's, first of all, refresh the screen here. Alright, and go into "format ruler".
[Lloyd punches at the keyboard]
All right. Now, file?
[presses a key]
[...] See more »
The closing credits are displayed over a moving shot of Paul's office, during which more and more employees show up for work. When the camera passes Paul's desk again, he has disappeared. See more »
One night. One man. Infinite troubles and tumultuous situations that can ruin a man's life or just to make him realize he isn't so normal and so different from the insane characters he'll meet in this bewildering journey. What Martin Scorsese does in "After Hours" is a humored, provoking and dark challenge where his main character, the word processor Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne, great performance) is a guinea pig tested to the limit showing how difficult it is to be sane in a place that doesn't invite you to be mad, it violently grabs you to the madness in a endless night heading to the initial starting point. But he'll never be the same man as he was before.
With no moment to waste, "After Hours" starts with Paul training a new comer in the office on how to work with the computer. Finished the work, he's in a restaurant when a girl (Rosanna Arquette) notices he's reading one of Arthur Miller's Tropic books, they start a conversation, liked each other, she gives her number, nothing's out of order. Back at home, bored and alone, Paul calls the girl, who invites him to go to her place in the SoHo to see some artsy paperweights she makes. What was an innocent date turns into a nightmare of troubled happenings from the moment Hackett entered in the cab, lost his money, met the girl that wasn't so good as he thought she would be (she's quite problematic, neurotic, suffered with plenty of men and she's married).
So, it's better find the way back home. Yep, he's lost in the city, with no money in his pockets and no one's willing to help. Sometimes, they'll help but there's always a strange cost, there's always something in the way. Crossing his hallucinated path are a helpful bartender (John Heard), the hysterical waitress (Teri Garr) who'll try to accuse him of attacking her after Paul's reluctance in staying in her house, two "robbers" (Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong), killers, punk rockers, exquisite figures, a mob, all of them will try to take a piece of him. Why? Because he's the wrong man at the wrong time? No, because he's too careless, too reckless, selfishly unwise. "I didn't know that" says Paul almost constantly and that's his problem. The man who never knows anything always pays the price, doing wrong things, acting wrong over and over again, trapped in his own ignorance.
Not all is tragedy, actually it's quite humored. Dark humored. Even Paul can be a little bit at ease and make a joke with himself, after testifying a murder across the street while hiding from the angry mob that thinks he's a dangerous person making constant attacks on the region. He watches the murder at distance and says "I'll probably get blamed for that!". For the most part, he's just like the man in Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream", suffering the century's anxiety and constantly begging for help.
This minor work from Scorsese made right after "The King of Comedy" and still using of some twisted humor of the earlier film is a small masterpiece where he, master of his art, takes everything he knows about movies and composes an energetic, pulsating, funny and bright film. Appears to be somehow naive, simplistic but it's not. There's so much more than just hearing and watching the plot. Seeing is believing here. It perfectly matches in a non official trilogy I name of "New York time bomb trilogy", started in "Taxi Driver" (1976) and finishing with "Bringing Out the Dead" (1999), all stories taking place in NY, featuring characters living in the thin line between sanity and madness, just trying to get through the night. All of the main characters, Hackett, Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver" and Frank Pierce in "Bringing..." are all creatures of the night, dealing with lot of pressure on a edgy, wild city that looks like a time bomb just waiting to explode at any moment and they need to decide which way is gonna be, to succumb to it or survive in it, and they're all stuck in a stressful and tiring routine. Well, Hackett is a little bit different though, he's not into something like being a paramedic or a driver, he's just a word processor (as he angrily shouts to God while trying to find a way out of his problems). He spent the whole day in the office and just wanted to have some good time with a girl he liked but got trapped in this maze. Take a look at how close those three films are, not just in their theme but also the way Scorsese edits, photographs, captures small things like the objects in scene, the camera movements, the music, each particular shot. It's a fascinating technique.
Thank you, Michael Powell for being the source of inspiration for the most perfect ending this movie could have. And thank you Marty for nailing it again. 10/10
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