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NewCityNet Film Tip of the Week

By Ray Pride

JANUARY 20, 1998:  The American cinema's great cracked romantic, Alan Rudolph, returns with his first movie since 1994's "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle," and it's a doozy of digression and tonal shifts, moving from comedy to pathos, from bad puns to terrifying heartbreak. Rudolph likes to jibe that his four characters in "Afterglow"'s roundelay of adultery are "in four different emotional time zones." A fable about two married couples whose lives intersect in contemporary Montreal, "Afterglow" stars Nick Nolte as Lucky Mann, a Mr. Fix-It who knows most of the Mrs. on his side of town. Wife Julie Christie, once a B-movie actress, stews at home, watching tapes of herself and mourning an aching loss in her past. Jonny Lee Miller plays a twenty-fiveish corporate shark and control freak who can't control his effervescent wife, Lara Flynn Boyle, who struggles to be a bubbly carbon of Holly Golightly. I think "Afterglow" is a marvel, hitting more notes -- some sour, admittedly, but many magnificent -- than a half-dozen other movies. Rudolph, ever the joker, also calls "Afterglow" "an unwashed soap opera."

As for the mix of tones in "Afterglow," Rudolph says, "If a movie has four characters and one is named Lucky Mann, you gotta know it's a fable. I realized [at the premiere] that the film plays better the next day, which is kind of a Pyrrhic victory. It's the resonance. If you don't take it literally, it's a diary, several days in the life of a marriage, of both the couples, the ups and downs. The conditioning in America is, 'I love you, I love you, let's get married -- whew, we never have to deal with that again.' In fact, it's a living thing you have to deal with daily. Moment by moment. If it was written into law that every spouse had to have a lover, there would probably be no divorce. People would probably divorce their lovers! But marriage is the supreme challenge between two people. Marriage is the most unnatural act, yet the most honorable. It would seem to be one of the main pursuits of humanity because we think more of someone else than ourselves." Ideally then, one can extend to the rest of the world what one has learned about honor, respect... ? "Forgiveness. That's what it's all about. It's one of the real joys of being alive, to have this unpredictability with someone else. As humans, there are two basic things that motivate us: fear and love. And to make a film that deals with love and try not to be theoretical, just entertaining, that's the challenge."

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