After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesic, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.
A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.
Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam vet attempts to discover his past while suffering from a severe case of disassociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusion, and perception of death.
Wade Whitehouse is a sheriff of a small New Hampshire town who achieved nothing in life in the opinion of his ex-wife Lillian and daughter Jill and is a heavy drinker. His girlfriend Margie accepts him the way he is. On the first day of the hunting season, Wade's friend Jack takes a wealthy businessman to hunt - and only Jack returns alive. Wade decides to play detective and starts investigating the case despite the fact Jack insists it was an accidental self-inflicted shot. Written by
When meeting with James Coburn to discuss the film, director Paul Schrader encouraged Coburn to make heavy preparations for his role. Coburn responded "Oh, you mean you want me to really act? I can do that. I haven't often been asked to, but I can." See more »
Wade puts his right hand's finger in his mouth because of his toothache, but when he turns his back to Margie he appears with his left hand's finger in his mouth. See more »
I was always careful around Pop. I was a careful child. And I'm a careful adult. But at least I was never afflicted with that man's anger.
That's what you think.
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One of the year's best films; brilliantly acted and directed. **** (out of four)
AFFLICTION / (1997) **** (out of four)
By Blake French:
Dysfunctional families have always been the subject of motion pictures. Recently, with movies like "American Beauty" and "The Story of Us," Hollywood has portrayed American households as candidates to be on the next TV tabloid talk show. Paul Schrader's dramatic portrayal of a troubled family in "Affliction" is as intense as any suspense thriller released within the past few years. The thought-provoking power of his script, based on the novel by Russell Banks, and the methods he uses to execute the vivid, interpretative character study creates more than just a sense of emotion and empathy, but places the audience in the character's shoes, allowing us to explore a tense atmosphere on our own.
The movie looks into the life of a struggling person named Wade Whitehouse, played with extreme intensity by the descriptive Nick Nolte. He is the lowly sheriff of a small backwoods in New Hampshire. Nothing much happens in Lawford, however, thus Wade is usually restricted to plowing the snowy streets and serving as the local school's crossing guard. His ex-wife, Lillian (Mary Beth Hurt), has most custody of their daughter, Jill (Brigid Tierney), and neither relative enjoys his company. Wade's alcoholic father, Glen (James Coburn in an Oscar worthy performance), who abused him and his brother Rolfe (Willem Dafoe) as children, continues to abuse him emotionlly.
The subtle town of Lawford is turned upside-down when a rich businessman is mysteriously killed while hunting with Wade's friend, Jack Hewitt (Jim True). Finally given something to investigate, Wade takes his job seriously, even when complications arise when his mother dies, his brother comes home from Boston, and his waitress girlfriend (Sissy Spacek) meets Wade's parents and realizes what she gotten herself into.
As Wade's life starts to completely unravel, the filmmakers neglect to leave out any details; from flashback of his fathers abuse to an uncompromising toothache, Wade is developed vividly and clearly. The movie is best when allowing Nick Nolte and James Coburn to come to terms with each other's hatred for each other. The performances are what make this movie much more distinct than similar but lesser films like "The Other Sister" and "The Story of Us," and even better acted than the masterpiece Award winner "American Beauty."
Instead of milking the dysfunctional family material to the maximum, the film also has tender dialogue and heartfelt scenes that exhibit a loving relationship between Wade and his girlfriend. These scenes make even more tragic the production's unsettling conclusion and increase the overall dramatic impact, which is tremendous.
By the end of "Affliction," like in "The Ice Storm," we feel for the main character's losses. Although this film is more conclusive, it is also unmerciful; we receive no happy ending, no satisfying motifs, this movie takes itself seriously and has no pity, regrets, or agreements. For Wade Whitehouse, the climax of the movie represents death, grief and sorrow. For us, we can only stare at the screen and try to comprehend what we have experienced through his eyes.
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