After Dark, My Sweet (1990) Poster

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An Underrated, Relatively-Unknown Noir
ccthemovieman-122 March 2006
Intense actors like Bruce Dern, Jason Patrick and Rachel Ward combine to make this modern-day film noir a winner. Of the three, I don't know who was most interesting as all offer good performances and intriguing characters.

Patric does the narration in this noir, playing an ex-boxer and mental patient. Wow, that alone makes for an interesting guy! He looks dumb, but he isn't. Ward is the slinky, attractive, cynical, intelligent and compassionate co- conspirator of a kidnapping plan that goes bad. Bruce Dern also is in the mix and Dern never fails to fascinate in about any film.

The movie could be considered kind of downer to the average viewer, but I found it fascinating....and I don't like depressing movies normally. What I found was a kind of quirky crime film. Take a look and see if you agree. This is pretty unknown film that shouldn't have that status because it's simply a good story and well-done.
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Sunburned Noir
fowler119 March 2002
It was easy not to notice this in theaters a decade ago, but time has been exceedingly kind to AFTER DARK & likely will continue to be. Already it stands as one of the 90s best films. Though its Southwestern locations (Indio, California was used) are both a bit too sparse and modern to suit the source material, in every other way this captures the ineffable aura of Jim Thompson's prose (and anyone who's actually READ "The Getaway" knows how utterly impossible a task translating his best effects to film really is). Director Foley has done a splendid job in setting a tone of dreamlike, sunburned melancholy and maintaining it throughout, aided immeasurably by fine performances by Rachel Ward & Bruce Dern and an absolutely riveting one by Jason Patric. I had faint hopes for this film before seeing it, due mostly to Patric in the lead; I was floored watching it, and all DUE to Patric's performance. Though a little young for the part, he captures perfectly the likable ambivalence and roiling inner pathology of the Jim Thompson Hero: you never stop feeling for the guy even as you know he will inevitably be compelled by his inner torments to do monstrous things before the story ends. Patric's complete immersion into "Kid Collins" steals a little thunder from one of Bruce Dern's most chillingly indelible portrayals of slime personified, "Uncle Bud". (Fans of Dennis Hopper's "Frank Booth" from BLUE VELVET would take to Uncle Bud immediately, I think.) More than any other film adaptation of Thompson, AFTER DARK -even more than THE GRIFTERS - embodies that peculiar cowtown existentialism of his that tells us we're each of us alone in a world where things start bad and only get worse, pretending we're sane the way kids pretend there's a Santa Claus. A film without an audience in 1990, but little by little, year by year, a growing and appreciative audience is building. See this movie.
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Boxer takes it out of the ring.
Andy (film-critic)22 September 2004
Ex-boxer turned drifter, Kid Collins (Patric), wafts his way into the life of a con-man and a drunk. Wanting to stay below the radar, Collins takes refuge with a woman that trades shelter for work. The death of her husband has plummeted her into a world of alcohol and rage. As Collins begins to build a relationship with her, she shares with him details of a kidnapping plan that her and her 'Uncle' have been working on. Thinking that Collins is nothing more than a mental lackey, they persuade him to help with the diabolical plan. Little do they know that the monsters struggling inside Collins' mind are about to be unleashed onto the world. As the plan begins to disintegrate before their eyes, loyalties are lost, and nobody can be trusted.

What an amazing find! When I began watching this film I was not expecting to be so surprised. Jason Patric is spectacular in this film and demonstrates powerfully his ability to control and maintain a troubled character. I never once felt that he had stepped out of character during this performance. This is due in part to the exceptional direction by James Foley that creates a story so imaginative and real that you begin to feel as if this could be a town next to yours. Foley gives us flawed characters that take away that image of perfection and helps build deeper emotional ties. Foley also never gives anything away. Throughout this entire film, I never knew what was going to happen next. This is surprising for a Hollywood notorious for 'jumping the gun'.

Patric's performance with Foley's direction coupled with a completely terrifying secondary characters (like Bruce Dern and Rachel Ward), After Dark My Sweet is a true diamond in the rough.

Grade: ***** out of *****
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the most romantic movie ever?
bartandgregs21 November 2002
It is rare that one comes across a movie as flawless as this. It's truly one of the best acted, most tightly structured films I've ever seen. Every line of dialogue can be interpreted in several ways, relating to each of the three main characters differently. The film weaves an intrinsic web of motivations and double crosses that snare you and refuse to let go. Add to this that the slow-burning romance between Kevin and Faye is as moving as anything that's ever been committed to celluloid and you have the ingredients for a perfect film. It exposes the romance of movies such as "Titanic" as the trite cliches they are. If you're looking for a movie to watch while you fold laundry, this isn't it. You have to commit yourself to this film. You can't have a conversation while running in and out of the room. This movie demands your attention. Treat it with the respect you deserve and you'll get a lot out of it. Unless you think "Titanic" is the greatest film ever.
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a near-flawless adaptation
vlvetmorning9812 January 2005
The first of two Jim Thompson adaptations released in 1990 (the other being the more well-known GRIFTERS), AFTER DARK has all of Thompson's hallmarks: dangerous women, the confidence game, and characters that are either not as dim as others suspect them of being, or not as harmless.

Jason Patric is superb as a former boxer disqualified from the sport for life due to an incident in the ring (director James Foley uses RAGING BULL-esquire sequences to flesh out the back story) and the too-little-seen Rachel Ward also delivers a great performance. But Bruce Dern is the film's secret weapon: his sweet-talking grifter Uncle Bud subtly commands each of his scenes.

there's almost no comic relief in this film, so watch it prepared to be sucked into the void.
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One of the best adaptations I've ever seen!
soytown20 May 2004
If you're as huge of a fan of an author as I am of Jim Thompson, it can be pretty dodgy when their works are converted to film. This is not the case with Scott Foley's rendition of AFTER DARK MY SWEET. A suspenseful, sexually charged noir classic that closely follows and does great justice to the original text. Jason Patrick and Rachel Ward give possibly the best performances of their careers. And the always phenomenal Bruce Dern might have even toped him self with this one. Like Thompson's book this movie creates a dark and surreal world where passion overcomes logic and the double cross is never far at hand. A must see for all fans of great noir film. ****!!!
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Jim Thompson pulp played to perfection.
TheVid19 March 2002
This is a moody, oblique, adult thriller that seems to bore most of the reviewers so far, making me think that they're all mostly adolescent-type viewers. While not a perfect film noir, AFTER DARK, MY SWEET is a particularly unusual one in that it uses bright atmospherics as opposed to the standard dark ones used to enhance the downward decadence of the material. This picture was made at a time when pulp novelist Thompson was getting a bit of a revival on screen, with a remake of THE GETAWAY and a nifty film version of THE GRIFTERS. The remarkable French film COUP DE TORCHON, also based on a Thompson novel (entitled POP. 1280) uses the same bright noir approach. AFTER DARK, MY SWEET stands admirably along side all these films as a relevant tribute to a writer who often exposed people's dark anxieties with tough, stylish precision! Check out the widescreen Artisan DVD for some nicely done and highly-recommended, adult moviemaking.
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Jim Thompson noir, true to his style
silentgmusic16 November 2002
While watching the exquisitely photographed film After Dark, My Sweet, one has to admire Jason Patrick's heartbroken voiceover. His narration is a combination of punch-drunkenness, paranoia, and a surrendering to fate. Like in many noirs, Collie knows there is no way to escape one's destiny; the only thing to do is ride it out and see what happens.

After Dark, My Sweet is one of those little gems, a film that came out just as independent cinema was experiencing an upswing in popularity. And, although the film was no huge hit when it was released, After Dark, My Sweet was at the beginning of a new trend: the neo-noir film. John Diehl would later impress us with Last Seduction and Red Rock West, but while those noirs had the style of the older genre, After Dark...has the dialogue and attitude of old; the words coming out of Patrick's mouth are clearly classic Jim Thompson. That sort of dementia, a kind of poetry, is hard to fake. James Foley has translated the novel to screen without losing the feel. When Collie is flashing-back to his boxing days, our heart races with him. When Collie recalls all of his past regrets and his own self-loathing, the sound of his voice and the words he is speaking are haunting and haunted. Jason Patric's performance is his best; he is pathetic yet endearing, stupid but savvy. A tough role to pull off, but he does it in true shaggy-dog ease. Rachel Ward and Bruce Dern(always the crazy one) play good backup, especially Ward with her 1940's-era fast-speak witty banter, straight out of Barbara Stanwick movies. But, this is Patrick's (and Thompson's) show.

Bravo to James Foley for this top-notch adaption of Jim Thompson's nightmarish reality, one that is desperate and life-threatening and sometimes all too real.
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Terrific, under-rated film of a classic Jim Thompson novel.
Monk-1717 February 2005
Ever read Jim Thompson? He's hard-boiled noir with the most extreme fatalism and misanthropy I've ever encountered. There are rarely private detectives in his work - just losers, psychotics and small-time con artists. This film has Thompson nailed - "If God made any real mistakes in this world, it was in giving us a will to live when we've got no excuse for it." Every character in the film balances on a razor's edge between surreal and creepy realism. There's sleazy, conniving Uncle Bud, played by Bruce Dern and spookily well-intentioned Doc Goldman played by George Dickerson. Jason Patric gives a wonderful, often heart-wrenching performance as Kid Collins, a none-too-bright, shy ex-fighter who's more scared of himself than of anyone else. Rachel Ward is Fay, the sexy femme fatale who we can't quite figure out...It's not your standard film noir, nor is it intended to be. After Dark My Sweet, along with The Grifters, are two excellent adaptations of novels by one of my favorite writers, Jim Thompson.
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Jason Forestein6 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
After Dark, My Sweet is a great, modern noir, filled with seedy characters, dirt roads, and, of course, sweaty characters. It seems that most of the truly great noirs of the last two or three decades have taken place in the South, where the men glisten and the ladies, um, glisten too. Why? Because it's hooooottttttttttt. And because everyone looks better wet (at least the men do - sweaty women leave me clammy).

Anyway - there might be some spoilers in here.

This film is a wonderful example of everything a noir should be - steady pacing (though some with attention disorders refer to it as 'slow'), clearly and broadly drawn (though not simple) characters, and tons of atmosphere. Noir, if anything, is about moods and attitudes. That's why the great ones are not marked by your traditional definitions of 'great' acting (look at Bogart, Mitchum, Hurt, and Nicholson - they (and their characters) were anything but real - but they had style and sass and in a crime movie that's exactly what you want). or quickly paced adventures (again all great noirs seem to be on slow burn like a cigarette). Great noirs create an environment and you just inhabit it with the characters for a couple hours.

After Dark My Sweet let's you do that - and it let's you enjoy the company of some very interesting and complex characters. Uncle Bud and Collie are intriguing - never allowing the audience to know what really makes them tick - and Patric and Dern (I love Bruce Dern, by the way) are pitch perfect, Dern especially (see previous comment). They take the basic outlines of a character and give them depth and elicit our sympathies.

The story itself is also interesting. There're better plots in the world of noir (hardly any mystery here - mostly it's suspense), but this one is solid. If anything, the simply 'okay' plot has more to do with Jim Thompson's writing than anything else. With Thompson, plots are almost secondary; he eschewed the labyrinthine tales of Hammett and Chandler for simpler stories with stronger, more confusing characters. Look at a novel like The Killer Inside Me and and you'll see right away (from the title) what it's all about. When it comes to Thompson, it's not what it's about, it's how it's about it (to quote Roger Ebert). So, really, the relatively simple plot of a kidnapping is not the point and, if you don't like it, well the jokes on you.

Why this is an 8star movie rather than a 10star one is because of the female lead. She's not bad, per se, but she's not Angelica Huston or Anette benning (see the adaptation of Jim Thompson's The Grifters if you don't know what I'm talking about - besides it's a better movie and you should start there for contemporary noir - it's the best of the 1990s and challenges Blood Simple for the title of best since Chinatown). She simply doesn't have the chops (or the looks for that matter) and though she and Patric have some chemistry, I don't have it with her. So there.
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Rambling Man
kenjha9 April 2010
An ex-boxer drifts into a town and becomes involved with a rich widow and her shady friend. It moves very slowly, which is fine if the characters are interesting or the plot is compelling, but that's not the case here. The characters are very poorly developed and the plot wanders aimlessly, making for a rather dull movie. Patric's performance is somewhat one-note, with that one note being a smoldering look. The whole psychological mumbo-jumbo regarding his mental state is not the least bit interesting. Ward lacks the allure required for her role. Dern does what he can with a sketchily drawn character. The direction is journeyman at best.
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As with anything, be in the mood
count21019 December 2000
I see After Dark, My Sweet every couple of years and it is only slightly less stunning now compared to 10 years ago. 3 key points... Jason Patric's performance, or rather character. I haven't seen his performance in anything else that has been close, I thought at the time it was perfection. The mood. If you're familiar with the area it was shot in, the desolation and decay is conveyed with alarming accuracy. And an ending that has impact. Again, if you're in the mood.
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Film Noir without the noir
Michael Neumann2 November 2010
Never mind the retro '40s pulp fiction title: this oddly haphazard adaptation of yet another Jim Thompson crime potboiler is Film Noir without the noir. There aren't any shadows in the Southern California desert setting, or in any of the (count 'em) three principal characters, least of all the ersatz anti-hero: a punch drunk ex-fighter (Jason Patric) with an unfocused but attractive 50 yard stare and a bruised attitude not unlike young Marlon Brando's circa 'On The Waterfront'. After drifting into suburban Palm Springs he becomes the pawn in a kidnap scheme which, naturally, goes wrong, but how or why and with what consequences is never really clear: the motivations in the final scenes are muddled, to say the least. Patric does his best to give the role an appropriate smoldering intensity, but for all his posturing it's obvious he's a white-hatted good guy from the concern he shows for the diabetic young kidnap victim. Elsewhere Bruce Dern projects his trademark sleazy congeniality, and Rachel Ward is totally miscast as a dangerous Femme-Fatale: it's unlikely she could drive a man around the corner of lukewarm distraction, much less over the edge of sexual obsession.
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Losers, Inc!
rbrb13 January 2009
I read some gushing reviews here on IMDb and thought I would give this movie a look. Disappointed. On the plus side the male leads are good, and some interesting photography but as a whole this movie fails to convince. Seems to be full of its' own self indulgent importance in trying to say something meaningful but falls way short and all in all the picture is an unconvincing mess.

It is one of those films classified as a film noir which can be defined as follows:

"A film noir is marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, menace and cynical characters".

Well that is the story here: 3 losers stumble upon each other with their collective problems that include mental illness, alcoholism, laziness, indebtedness etc and together they conspire to kidnap a child and outwit each other.

Would have been a much better movie if the story was confined more to the kidnap instead of the character failings of the kidnappers. I thought the female lead was way out of her depth and came across as an amateur actress.

Whilst some good moments, I finished up feeling I had wasted my time.

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Time Lapse
tieman6418 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Traditional noir doesn't work in contemporary storytelling because we don't live in that world anymore." - Brian De Palma

"Noir is dead for me because, historically, I think it's a simple view. I've taken it as far as it can go. I think I've expanded on it a great deal, taken it further than any other American novelist." - James Ellroy

"After Dark, My Sweet" is an atmospheric neo-noir in which a mentally handicapped man is suckered into kidnapping a child. This may sound like a familiar noir plot – and it is - but the film nevertheless does several interesting things.

Firstly, instead of a femme fatale seducing our noir hero into committing a crime, we have an elderly man played by Bruce Dern. Because Bruce is a sort of surrogate femme fatale figure who seduces the girl into seducing our protagonist, we're never quite sure how involved in the criminal scheme the film's female character is. Is she innocent? Is she a pawn? Who is really pulling the strings?

Secondly, we're never quite sure if our noir hero is really mentally handicapped. Is it an act? Is he really mentally disabled? Is he simply playing everyone for a fool? Because the film deliberately withholds information, we get a slightly different rift on noir. Yes, there is a malevolent noir God pulling the strings (the crime goes vastly awry), but what the film does differently is extend this conspiracy in such a way that the principal characters themselves do not know which roles they play.

In this regard, the film serves as a modern update of "Detour", a famous low budget noir narrated by a possibly insane, wholly unreliable, narrator. Here, the unreliability extends 4 ways: the three characters and the camera.

8/10 – This is an archetypal story which, though it betters similar neo-noir fare ("Body Heat", "Kill Me Again", "Red Rock West", "Blood Simple", "Memento", "Bound", "The Last Seduction", "Jade" etc), still suffers from the problem which James Ellroy tries to articulate above.

Made in the 1980s and 90s, these films emulate noir narratives of the 1940s and 50s, a framework which was put to rest in "Blast of Silence", arguably the last of the classical noirs. True modern noirs ("X-Files" (series), "The Wire", "Twin Peaks", "Inland Empire", "Eyes Wide Shut", "Mulholland Drive" etc), offshoots of the conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s, are virtually incomparable to neo and classical noirs, positing far larger worlds, global narratives that are always in flux and never resolved.

Worth one viewing.
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In this retelling, Jim Thompson's dark poetry doesn't survive time-travel forward
bmacv25 January 2003
In James Foley's After Dark, My Sweet, drawn from Jim Thompson's moody suspense novel, Jason Patric gives a late riff on early Brando. He plays `Kid' Collins, a `retired' boxer who spent some spells in mental institutions after killing an opponent in the ring; now he's frozen into a perpetual fighter's crouch.

Now on the road, he drifts into a bar frequented by Rachel Ward and her unexplained Cornish accent (still a juicer, she's not quite the slatternly shrew of the book). She takes him home and stashes him in a trailer out back among the date palms. Next, up pops `Uncle' Bud (Bruce Dern), who suborns Patric into a half-baked scheme for kidnapping a rich kid. As happens with such schemes, things go awry (the kid turns out to be a diabetic, for one thing), and it falls to Patric to put matters right by a supreme act of self-sacrifice.

But the somnolent pace and elliptical plotting that worked in Thompson's telling sit uncomfortably on the screen. Even in the 1950s, the novel felt that it belonged to the conventions of a decade (or two) earlier – it's a Depression-era, or immediate post-war kind of story. Fast-forwarding it to the 1990s proved more a shock than it could sustain, a disparity exaggerated by misguided fealty to the book.

While there's some fussy updating (the anonymous sticks of Thompson's vision become a faintly upscale desert enclave; an airport replaces the bus terminal), elements that need freshening stick out as anachronisms. For instance, the solicitous attraction felt by the 50-year-old bachelor doctor (George Dickerson) toward Patric can only be homoerotic. While Thompson, chafing under the constraints of his time, left that to be distantly inferred, there's no reason to be coy about it more than 30 years later (there's little coy about the lovemaking between Ward and Patric). To his credit, Dickerson gives the game away with his doomed looks of longing; was it Charles Laughton who remarked `They can't censor the gleam in my eye?' And the long fuse between Ward and Patric sputters on and on; the movie could only be improved by losing half an hour of downing drinks and exchanging alternating glances of hatred and lust.

The best thing about After Dark, My Sweet is Patric's performance, even if, in keeping with the fads of the 1950s, it gives off too many whiffs of `method.' At least he gives the role his best shot. The movie's flaws, however, can't be ascribed to Thompson. Latter-day filmings of his work, like The Grifters of the same year and (especially) The Kill-Off a year before, show there's plenty of punch left in the old pulpmeister.
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Get "at close range " instead!
dbdumonteil4 August 2003
This had high intellectual pretensions.The main lead intends to give a "deep" "meaningful" rendering(with voice over for his frames of mind naturally) and he was certainly influenced by the fifties/sixties "method " -which,when the script and the direction were worthwhile did give stunning results (see Clift,Newman,Winters).But here the story is abysmal.Besides it moves too slow,you could edit at least 20 minutes -including pointless flashbacks-and the plot line would not be changed .At times ,it's very doubtful that Bruce Dern believes in his "Uncle "character and his portraying often verges on parody.An interesting side is only skimmed over:the relationship young boy/hero -if we admit that the hero is himself some kind of child- When he says to the young kid that he would let nobody do harm to him,some welcome tenderness emerges.But it's botched and only the final scene returns to it.

Word to the wise:Take Foley's "at close range" instead:it has two great actors (Christopher Walken and Sean Penn together!),it's also an offbeat movie ,but it's gripping,suspenseful.Here my hitchcockometer points sullenly towards zero throughout.
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Lame Film Noir Wannabe
utgard1423 December 2013
Escaped mental patient and ex-boxer (Jason Patric) gets involved with a widow (Rachel Ward) and her "uncle" (Bruce Dern). There's something equally amusing and insulting with a film like this. A pretentious neo-noir film that has "wannabe" written all over it. I don't have much of an opinion about neo-noir in general. There's something inherently phony about it. Like the players involved are all trying so hard to emulate something they have nothing more than an academic understanding of.

Anyway, it's a stinker. The acting sucks by everybody, although Dern equates himself best. Perhaps it's because I'm used to eccentric performances with him. Patric acts like he's playing Lennie in "Of Mice and Men." Ward vamps it up but she's no femme fatale. Just another wannabe in a movie full of them.
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Appearances Can Be Deceptive
seymourblack-17 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Director James Foley's movie version of Jim Thompson's 1955 pulp novel "After Dark, My Sweet" provides an intriguing insight into the lives of three characters who've all seen better times. Their profound feelings of loss, despair and defeat contribute significantly to the downbeat atmosphere of the piece and its steady pace also reflects perfectly their lack of urgency, focus and direction.

In common with many other neo-noirs, the action in "After Dark, My Sweet" takes place in an extremely hot environment. Its story however, with its themes of betrayal, treachery and hopelessness is classic film noir material.

Kevin "Collie" Collins (Jason Patric), an ex-boxer who's escaped from a mental institution meets Fay Anderson (Rachel Ward) an alcoholic widow, in a bar in the southern Californian desert. She offers him a place to stay in return for doing work on the rundown estate that she'd inherited from her late husband.

Fay's acquaintance, Uncle Bud (Bruce Dern) has, for some time, been working on a plan to kidnap the son of a local wealthy family and he and Fay persuade Collie to join them in carrying out the plan but predictably, after kidnapping the boy, things start to go out of control.

Jason Patric's portrayal of the emotionally troubled and consistently misunderstood Collie is tremendous. He appears to be in bad shape physically and mentally but appearances can be deceptive as he's actually smarter than other people think and he's also quick to recognise when they try to exploit his apparent deficiencies for their own ulterior purposes. The experience of having killed an opponent in the ring haunts him and his attempts to befriend other people only attract abuse, exploitation or open hostility. His capacity for sudden violence at unpredictable times is also probably a manifestation of his despair and loss of hope for the future.

Rachel Ward conveys Fay's despondency and bitterness very capably. Her mood swings and reliance on copious amounts of alcohol often make her relationship with Collie uncomfortable and her purposeless existence is reflected in the rundown condition of her estate.

Bruce Dern is suitably slimy as the insincere and manipulative ex-police detective who's always working on a scheme and who patronises Collie because his flawed judgement makes him underestimate the one time pugilist. George Dickerson is also excellent in a minor role as the very creepy Doctor Goldman who befriends Collie, ostensibly to help him, but also for his own dubious motives.

The setting for "After Dark, My Sweet" contributes strongly to the atmosphere of the movie and mirrors very powerfully, the desolation which is such a strong feature of the lives of its characters.
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Terrible noir, see almost any other noir instead of this one
sfdphd30 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This film is in the Film Noir Encyclopedia under neo-noir, but all of the other films I've seen so far in that category are much better than this one. I'm not sure if it's the fault of the original material or the screenplay or the director or the actor Jason Patric, but the lead character is not at all engaging and his apparent mental problem that disappears partway through is confusing. The femme fatale was interesting in the beginning as she was spinning her web, but then she got soft and mushy and the inconsistency was a let-down. The ending is the only good thing about the film. The ending explains why the Jason Patric character has been acting so strangely but the last 5 minutes could not change my opinion that the film is a waste of time. There are so many better films to see...
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Good atmosphere can't save this tiresome, overlong talk fest
highwaytourist15 August 2010
I saw this film during the 1990's and I was really disappointed. It seemed to go on forever and the main storyline, about the kidnapping, was just a backdrop for dull characters who never stop talking and their boring, ill-chosen lives. It has to do with an washed-up ex-boxer who escapes form a mental hospital and drifts into a kidnapping plot for quick cash which goes awry. After that happens, we wait for something interesting to happen. Very little does and nearly all of it is dull. The action is virtually non-existent and the murders are devoid of suspense. The film began well enough and the locations are very well chosen and photographed. But very little was done with them. The acting is passable, but that's all. I have no desire to see this movie again.
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Boringly bad excuse for film noir
pmgray25 April 2007
A film so insecure the creaters perhaps hoped to milk an original film noir classic title, "Farewell My Lovely", thinking the gullible would assume it a remake. The characters are so foul and unappealing that it deserved its cold reception when first released. Time only adds to it its absurdity. Having none of the guile, cinematography, desperation or despair of classic noir it relied instead on a convoluted and senseless crime plot that would have easily resulted in several arrests within hours. As if that weren't enough it threw in an utterly sexless attempt at erotica in which at least one of the participants hadn't bothered to bathe in several days. This only made this mess all the more painful to watch. Find a good classic forties or fifties film noir instead of wasting two hours on this failure.
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Dreary, badly acted and amateurish
freeheat15 June 2002
A dreary, hopelessly predictable film set in a most unpleasant setting (lower Coachella Valley). Acting is as amateurish as any I've seen. Looks like a screenwriting 101 script. However, it does function as a great sedative.
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Pitch perfect noir
timmy_5011 August 2010
After Dark, My Sweet is a film with a classic noir set-up: a desperate man teams up with a violent drifter and an alcoholic widow to kidnap a rich child. Director James Foley takes this plot and makes the best film that could possibly have been made with an already good premise. It helps that this is based on a short novel by Jim Thompson, a writer whose pulpy crime plots-which focus more on twisted characters than plot details-seem to work especially well on the screen.

The main character here is ex-boxer Kid Collins, a drifter who is troubled by an incident from his past. He's so troubled that he seems strange to everyone he encounters; this inspires extreme reactions so that people he has just met are equally as likely to try physical violence on him as they are to try to take him home. His skewed perspective is especially well represented by scenes that suddenly end with jarring transitions that seem to strike like lightning. Troubled as he is, he usually seems to have the best interests of others at heart. Given a chance to escape the plot he's about to be pulled into, he refuses it because he sees a chance for a real connection with the widow.

So, this film has all the best elements of noir: a troubled anti-hero, a desperate criminal plot, and a sense of weary inevitability in the way the plot unfolds. The visuals, editing, direction, and acting are all top notch and this has one of those great endings that gives the viewer a new way to look at everything that has happened before. This compares well with the best noir and neo-noir films ever made; in fact, I'm shocked by its obscurity.
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Disappointing attempt at film noir
The_Void2 June 2006
It's a shame that this wasn't very good because I really miss film noir and try my best to see as many of the newer Neo-Noirs as possible. The first thing I noticed about this movie was the poor lead performance from Jason Patric. He looks too scruffy to lead a film like this, and his general lack of enthusiasm doesn't do much to get the audience into the film. The rest of the film pretty much falls apart around him, as the characters aren't consistent and the plot isn't very well worked, and never becomes overly exciting. The acting is all rather downbeat and in trying to put in good performances, none of the cast really manage it. The plot follows a retired boxer who has escaped from a loony bin. He stops at a bar for a drink and soon meets a young widow named Fay. She lets him stay on a caravan on her land, and things start looking up for the ex-mental patient. However, things take a turn towards the wrong side of the law when Fay's uncle Bob turns up and convinces the pair to partake in a kidnapping that he's planning. This leaves the scruffy, lunatic, ex-boxing drifter in a sticky situation, as he to decide where his loyalties lie...

I haven't read the book by Jim Thompson upon which this film is based, and given my viewing of this film; I'm not going to bother. After Dark, My Sweet continually tries to instil the same feeling that made the classic noirs of the forties and fifties such a delight, but it always fails as the director has forgotten to give the audience any reason to care for the characters and their plights. Director James Foley also directed the very decent Glengarry Glen Ross, in which he managed to pull very strong performances out of his cast members, which suggests to me that he's a director who needs big stars in order to make his films work. The cinematography is good, but doesn't fit the tone of the film at all. This sort of film got its name for the black and white picture, so it's always going to be difficult to create a noir atmosphere with a crisp and clear colour picture. That being said, the film does look nice and the director captures the locations well. On the whole, I can't recommend this film because it doesn't do what it set out to; but anyone going into the movie expecting only a nineties thriller shouldn't be too disappointed.
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