Bright Lights, Big City (1988) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Jamie Conway (Michael J. Fox) is an aspiring writer and yuppie living in New York City who seeks oblivion in cocaine and the glittery nightclub scene as his life falls apart (his wife leaves him, his mother dies, etc.). With his hard-partying friend Tad Allagash (Kiefer Sutherland) tagging along with him during their nights out, Jamie finds it increasingly difficult to show up every day at his unfulfilling job as a fast checker for a literary Manhattan magazine.

  • Five days in the life of twenty-something Jamie Conway in New York City is presented. His brother Michael is urgently trying to reach him, but Jamie is doing whatever he can to avoid seeing Michael, let alone even talk to him. Jamie knows full well why Michael is trying to contact him at this point in time, the reason which is still too painful for Jamie with which to deal. Jamie is also dealing with his wife Amanda's abandonment, she an up and coming model who decided not to return to New York after a business trip to Paris, she, not having even talked to Jamie, working through a lawyer for divorce proceedings. These issues in combination have led to Jamie turning to drugs - specifically cocaine - alcohol and partying night after night with his friend Tad Allagash to cope. These coping mechanisms have in turn led to Jamie not being able to function in his day-to-day life, including at his job as a fact checker with a major magazine that prides itself on the factual accuracy of their articles. Jamie got into this work hoping eventually to transfer to the creative side of the magazine as a writer. But his career looks to be turning in the other direction as a moved up deadline by his boss Clara Tillinghast he believes is a tactic as grounds for dismissal if he does not complete the article satisfactorily by the deadline. Two other things that happen this week affect what happens to Jamie. First, Tad asks him as a favor to take out his cousin Vicky. And second, Amanda, without telling Jamie but which he discovers, returns to New York, he doing whatever he can to see her.

  • A disillusioned young writer living in New York City turns to drugs and drinking to block out the memories of his dead mother and estranged wife.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • One year ago Jamie Conway married Amanda White, who was a famous model, until one day Amanda claimed she need to work in Paris and left Jamie without coming back. Jamie began to go into bars and sedate himself with drugs and alcohol. Jamie originally got a job but because that job required that he be fluent in French (and he lied on his resume about being fluent in French), every piece Jamie wrote was full of mistakes and therefore rejected.

    On Monday Jamie was late for work, Clara asked him to do a french piece and request that it must be 100% mistake-free and she needed that French piece on her desk before the end of business-day. He spent the whole day working on the article and turned it in Tuesday, 12.50am.

    On Tuesday, Jamie regretted that he called into work and pretended to be sick. When Clara realized he took sick leave, Jamie wish to revise Monday article, but Megan said Clara already asked for a photocopy and a copy was sent by Clara's home for her to check.

    On Wednesday, Clara was angry and Jamie was fired.

    Alright, speak up to here. You should find the rest of the day yourself. Thank you.

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