Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Joseph Minion
Starring: Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, Thomas Chong, Griffin Dunne, Linda Fiorentino
Working a day job, the usual 9-5 does not leave one with much time to do much else as one has to eat and then sleep for the next day. It becomes a full-cycle that may feel endless without the weekend being a savior. That free time becomes precious and in After Hours it’s spent spiraling into a completely wacky night filled with a world of colorful characters.
Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) works every day and seems unfulfilled when one night he meets a young woman, who gives him her number. Intrigued to move forward, he calls her and goes to visit her apartment when invited. Once he arrives he gets involved in a wide variety of situations he didn’t ask to be part of, which leads to a hilarious and dark series of events.
Comedy typically does not embody the type of works directed by Martin Scorsese. Sure, he sprinkles it in his features, but After Hours remains his only film where he crafts a pure comedy in its structure. It’s then no surprise that the master filmmaker absolutely crushes it. Scorsese introduces this wild batch of characters with each of them uniquely providing something different to the poor protagonist. After Hours essentially represents a night of bad luck. It starts with Paul sitting in the cab to get to the girl’s apartment and the $20 bill he planned to pay the fare flies out the window. Not being able to pay the cab driver creates an awkward interaction, which definitely comes to his detriment later in the film. That sets off a series of events that all seem interconnected in some weird way. Every character Paul interacts with comes full circle in his experience of that night.
Made in the 1980s, the time period could truly be felt when watching it. At one point in the story, Paul gets stuck in a certain part of New York and tries to get back home but has no way of doing so. He cannot afford to pay for a taxi or get on the subway. Cell phones did not exist yet so he could not contact anyone for help. As a 90s baby, I felt incredibly anxious for Paul because I grew up with so many amenities at my fingertips. Whether it be something simple like a cell phone or other means of communication, not being able to make contact with someone has not been a challenge in my life. I cannot fathom being in the same situation and trying to figure out what I would do to get back home. Paul legitimately felt stuck in a city of millions, as it shows just how lonely one can be among such a populated city. It demonstrates why he would go on this journey, as he pursues some sort of connection with someone else in life. Unfortunately, he gets a bit more than he asked for with all of the characters he interacts with.
While the film displays a plethora of funny moments, this could certainly be classified as a dark comedy. There are some moments that put Paul in awful and perilous situations he needs to dig himself out of. Scorsese strikes a good balance between the comedic and the dark moments to put together a tidy and entertaining film. Nothing incredibly deep or moving, but After Hours never had that intention. It served as an entertaining little romp of a story and it works on that level. It shows the great versatility of the legendary director and discovering this film became quite the surprise as it never comes up when discussing Scorsese’s works but it definitely should.