Martin Scorsese is a director who is often associated with two specific movie genres: gangster films and biopics. In fact, a good argument against acknowledging Scorsese as a great director would seem to be that he lacks versatility. Well, by following Raging Bull with The King of Comedy, Scorsese has proven his ability to work in different genres. However, this may leave people pondering if The King of Comedys success as a film can be attributed to the great actor Robert DeNiro. After all, up to this point Scorsese had often worked with the same actors in many of his movies, chiefly Harvey Keitel and Robert DeNiro. Therefore, when one goes into After Hours knowing that it is a mixture of comedy and thriller, features Griffin Dunne in its lead role, and is not a very well known Scorsese movie, he/she may not feel much excitement. After all, how can a movie from a famous director be fairly obscure, yet still be good? I do not know the answer to this question. What I do know is that After Hours is one of director Martin Scorseses best film entries, and proves that he is far more versatile and brilliant than one could ever imagine.
Everyman Paul Hackett (Dunne) meets a girl, Marcy (Rosanna Arquette) in a cafe. After they hit it off, Marcy gives Paul her phone number, and tells him to call her her roommate, Kiki, saying that Kiki, an artist, will sell him a paperweight made to look like a bagel. Paul calls up Kiki, gets on the phone with Marcy, attains her address, and hops into a cab. It is in the cab that the first bad thing happens to Paul; his cab-fare flies out of the taxi window. When Paul reaches Marcys apartment in SoHo, Kiki informs him that Marcy is currently out at a drugstore. Paul begins to suspect that not everything is normal about Marcy, and decides to leave the apartment and take a subway home. At this point begins a strange, disturbing, and occasionally funny series of misfits as Paul tries unsuccessfully to make his way back home from.
The films greatest success lies in its atmosphere. Not only does the movie perfectly capture night-life in the (then) dangerous town of SoHo, it also makes the viewer feel the same paranoia and desperation that Paul Hackett does. This is something I definitely contribute to the films director, and proves that Scorsese has the directing chops to do whatever he wants. This is smart directing at its finest, and ranks with such films as Paris, Texas and Punch-Drunk Love as a fantastic, tone-setting movie.
Griffin Dunnes performance as Paul is easily one of the best male lead performances of 1985. He perfectly captures the everyman suffering from circumstances beyond his control. If Scorsese lays the foundation to set up the characters despondence, Dunne leaps into it and builds it into a monolith. Furthermore, we get a fantastic supporting cast. Rosanna Arquette is delightfully odd as Marcy, while her friend, Kiki, is played wonderfully by Linda Fiorentino.
We also get a tremendous script by Joseph Minion. The SoHo written in this movie is dark, foreboding, and full of some of the most interesting and eclectic characters ever put on screen. Minion also manages to combine comedy and thriller aspects into a unique stew of cinematic elements. One plot point has an angry mob chase after Paul, thinking that he is the person responsible for a spate of house robberies in the neighborhood. While the absurdity of the situation may be very funny, the films main character is truly in danger. You may laugh at this movie, but later feel unsure whether or not it was a laughing matter. Do not go into this film expecting a straight out comedy, or even a thriller. After Hours is a brilliant black-comedy of the highest grade.
Strong film-making from all aspects, After Hours is taut and suspenseful, yet odd and hilarious at the same time. Martin Scorsese delivers one of his finest, most underrated movies, which is accompanied by great acting and a cleverly penned screenplay. Pauls helplessness may make you feel panic, but it is the good type of panic. This type of feeling can only be caused by a well-made piece of art.