After Hours

After Hours ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

THEORY (SPOILERS AHEAD)

A lot of people see this film as one about a horny straight man just trying to get laid, but in fact I personally took quite the opposite idea from it. Obviously this is not the intention, but my interpretation is that it is all an allegory for compulsive heterosexuality, and Paul is a man hiding away from himself as desperately as he can. Now this explanation isn't going to be the most in-depth thing in the world, and I have not yet seen the film again to back any of this up perfectly, but this is just my first deep dive into it that I may expand upon later on.

Paul is stuck in his ways. He has a simple 9-to-5 job, and he wants to change things up. The film opens with him talking uninterestedly to a man at work, before he begins his evening by meeting a woman, something of which he most likely does frequently, but his awkwardness is tricky to pin. It isn't a usual type of horniness-fuelled lust, more of a fear almost. Throughout the film Paul is almost always uncertain with women, and he creates a pseudo-confidence when he is in fact incredibly frightened by them. The use of burns and scars in the film could relate to the many times he has caught feelings for a man and been hurt by them, and yet again hides the feeling away as he heals, and instead pursues a woman instead, who causes only more pain as it's not what he wants.

In the movie he has five main interactions with women, and as they develop it becomes all the more clear to me that he is hiding something about himself. It begins with an interaction of lust that leads to death, and one of passion that leads to sleep, so two failed attempts at romance both which result in a woman no longer being conscious. Following this however as the night goes on, he has an interaction with a woman of whom has an intense interest in him which he does not share, as he is instead infatuated with her boss, a male bartender. He finds solace in him in the bar, avoiding the woman as much as he can to spend time with him instead. When he is alone with the woman, his mind is only on him, awaiting his arrival. The next woman is one who sees something in him that he could not see in himself, and she then discloses this to the bartender who after that point rejects Paul entirely. She could be telling him word of Paul's sexuality, which he himself does not even realise, and yet the woman he hurt previously has been spreading the fact around. This then forces Paul to move on to the fifth and final woman, somebody of whom he dances with platonically and then finally helps him to hide himself away for good.

All during this time, Paul is constantly hurting men around him. The man at work at the beginning, the taxi driver of whom he rips off, the owner of the restuarant, the gay man who's house he invades; everywhere around him there are men to hurt him and for him to hurt back. Hurting people in this way is a very common way of rejecting something you in fact want, and every time he does this his night only gets worse as he puts his faith continuously in women. There must also be a reason for the sheer amount of LGBT characters which surround Paul for the entirety of the movie as well, like the neighbours of the bartender as well as countless other people here and there. Paul is completely unaware of his feelings towards people that he does nothing but hurt them, and eventually he finds himself in a position where he cannot go on any longer and must closet himself. But, in the end, after he returns home, he shatters out of his shell and goes back into work as a changed man. He sits down at his computer and as the credits begin to roll and as the camera swivels around the office space, it returns back to his desk to find him missing.

There are two ways this could be interpreted: either he has decided to leave the mundane and restrictive part of his life that he was stuck in and go out and explore new things after his SoHo adventure, or the unfortunate opposite, being that he has now perfectly hidden himself away from the world forever. Either way, compulsive heterosexuality and the way that one rejects new ideas and experiences because of it runs through the entirety of the film for me.

This is very muddled in writing and poorly backed up at the moment, but I'd very much like to watch it again and try find more evidence to hold this up stronger. I might even make a video essay on it instead of just writing it out, as I think this would be a pretty interesting topic to talk about. We'll see.

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