After Hours

After Hours ★★★★

It is common in a Martin Scorsese film to identify the flaws that facilitate the downfall that they often endure, whether it may be greed, ego, or paranoia, it becomes a highlighted feature that never escapes us. After Hours is a fascinating film in that its protagonist, Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), goes through a series of mishaps and misfortunes that slowly pushes him into a state of mental instability and desperation.

We initially assume that this is a man who has done nothing wrong but only went with his guts, and through poor luck, created a domino effect. As more events and figures come into the night, the film slowly reveals the unfavourable qualities that exist within Paul and how it becomes justified that such misfortunes would befall him. This is a man who reveals himself to be a coward when the chips are down, abandon common courtesy in favour of personal comfort and demonstrating a loss of empathy when placed outside of his comfort zone.

A whirlwind of an experience this night certainly has been for Paul, it is in its unpredictability and absurdity that makes it all so fascinating, just simply seeing how the ground could crumble yet again. It works because Scorsese and screenwriter Joseph Minion commits to the concept that they are selling, and offers no literal explanation for the experience that Paul just endured. Yet, in saying this, it does not mean there are no gaps for theorisation, as given the contrast that the film presents between Paul’s work life and the night he had, speaks initially of the desire of adventure and fun, a temporary escape from the draining and monotonous life he suffers in the office. While the film also emphasises the instability of such a lifestyle, and there is value to be had in such a stable environment that houses him from Monday to Friday.

Depends on how one chooses to view the film, but if one is in agreeance with the film’s positive light on the traditional white collar office space, then After Hours stands as one of the rare films that condone such an idea, as many films tend to argue the damage that such an environment can cause and that sometimes we need to escape from it in order to live a fulfilling and assertive life.

However, given the outrageous nature of the adventure, one can take the experience of After Hours lightly, absorbing it as an escapist ride that it may actually set itself out to be. I have not read or watched anything that details the production or intention of this film, and thus I am taking on this review completely from a fresh perspective, but I did view it as a casual walk onto this man’s nightmare and find opportunities of laughs along the way. I can confidently say that I had a great time.

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