Melissa Pierson
March 08, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

After Dark, My Sweet

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
114 minutes
performer
Bruce Dern, Jason Patric, Rachel Ward
director
James Foley
distributor
Avenue Pictures Productions
author
James Foley, Robert Redlin
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a B+

Jim Thompson’s provocative pulp crime fiction of the ’50s and ’60s might have been lost to the dime-store racks of the past if not for an auspicious rediscovery of his work, first in print and then in film. In what is coming to look like a trend, three Thompson books have appeared on the screen in the past year: first, this steamy, sophisticated thriller; then The Grifters, currently in theaters around the country; and The Kill-Off, now in limited theatrical release.

Fittingly, director James Foley (At Close Range) puts style over story, capturing the gritty, long-shadowed tone of his source material. After Dark, My Sweet looks simultaneously crisp and drenched in the yellow light of a strange dream, an effect that becomes especially haunting on video.

In this alluring tour through unsettled emotional territory, Jason Patric (The Lost Boys) gives an exceptionally sharp performance as an ex-boxer with one screw loose and another turned down tight. He’s drawn into a kidnapping scheme concocted by a former cop (Bruce Dern) and a sultry widow (Rachel Ward, for whom acting apparently means gesticulating). Together, they visit a place where desire and pain are indistinguishable, and everything goes twistingly awry. B+

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