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My Sweet After Dark Movie Review

foley patric james thompson

Jim Thompson's tightly written novels grab you by the throat and never let go until you finish reading them, usually about an hour later. I wish I could say the same thing about James Foley's movie version of After Dark, My Sweet. But alas no, and definitely no. This is a clear case of aficionados being so in love with the original source material that they attempt a meticulous (i.e. laborious) translation to the big screen. The results will please neither film noir buffs nor contemporary thriller fans. Foley's previous credits include two Madonna videos ("Live to Tell” and “Papa Don't Preach”) and the excruciating feature Who's That Girl?, also starring Madonna. For a guy who cut his teeth on fast-paced videos, Foley seems determined to prove that he also has a forte for sluggish direction, and prove it he does for nearly two hours. Jason Patric portrays a character distractingly named Kevin Collins, for reasons best known to Foley. In Thompson's 1955 novel, the protagonist's name was Bill Collins, so why change the name to that of one of the most famous missing children in America, especially in a film about kidnapping? He meets up with a widow named Fay and her cohort named Uncle Bud, who soon draw him into a not-terribly-well-organized kidnapping scheme. Most of the film looks like a series of acting school exercises, none of which makes the slender plot any more compelling. Foley fails to build any appreciable momentum, even at points that ordinarily lend themselves to SOME tension. Jason Patric is far from fascinating as Collins, Rachel Ward is somewhat less than beguiling as Fay, and Bruce Dern is way over the top as Uncle Bud. The only interesting performance is delivered by Corey Carrier as Jack, a bratty kid mistakenly targeted as the kidnapping victim. Unfortunately, he's only onscreen for a minute or two. For those who care, there is one love scene: you see quite a lot of Patric's derriere, hardly anything at all of Ward. If you've ever seen Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory or The Killing,both with Jim Thompson screenplays, I doubt that you'll agree with Bruce Dern that “Thompson would have been proud of what we did with his material.” For a better interpretation of Thompson material, rent Burt Kennedy's The Killer Inside Me with Stacy Keach, instead of After Dark, My Sweet!

1990 (R) 114m/C Jason Patric, Rachel Ward, Bruce Dern, George Dickerson, James Cotton, Corey Carrier, Rocky Giordani; D: James Foley; W: Robert Redlin, James Foley; C: Mark Plummer; M: Maurice Jarre. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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