Mother Night

Out of Kurt Vonnegut’s whimsically moralistic, seemingly impossible-to-film 1962 novel, director Keith Gordon (A Midnight Clear) has made a remarkably rich, tapestried adaptation of Mother Night. Nick Nolte is Howard W. Campbell Jr., an American-born playwright living in Germany when the Nazis come to power. His apolitical attitude prompts a U.S. operative (John Goodman) to propose that Campbell become a pro-Hitler radio commentator — and an Allied spy. Told in flashback as Campbell awaits his war-crimes trial, the movie’s loop-the-loop narrative captures Vonnegut’s sense of absurdity and heavyhearted sadness extremely well. Though Mother Night left theaters quickly, in this video edition — where you can take advantage of rewind to suss out the convoluted plot — the strong work of Nolte and Alan Arkin (as a painter friend of Campbell’s) deserves your attention. B+

Mother Night
  • Movie
  • 114 minutes