After Dark, My Sweet (1990) / Thriller-Drama

MPAA Rated: R for sexuality, nudity, violence and language
Running Time: 114 min.

Cast: Jason Patric, Rachel Ward, Bruce Dern, George Dickerson, James Cotton
Director: James Foley
Screenplay: Robert Redlin, James Foley (based on the book by Jim Thompson)

Review published February 10, 1998

After Dark My Sweet is a hidden gem of a film that most people probably overlooked 1,000 times in the video store.  Next time you're there and have gone over the new releases shelves for the eleventh time and only to be enticed by some movie featuring Ice-T or Lance Henriksen because there's just nothing else there, I would suggest you forget such foolish notions and give this one a shot. 

The story revolves around a former championship boxer (Patric, The Lost Boys) who escapes from a mental hospital and is befriended by a sexy widow (Ward, Against All Odds) who hires him to keep up the grounds on her estate. The two begin a torrid affair, and tension begins to grow when her uncle (Dern, The 'burbs) concocts a scheme to kidnap the young son of a wealthy family for ransom, causing an atmosphere of mistrust among all parties involved.

Just a caveat for those seeking titillation: After Dark My Sweet is not an edge-of your-seat thriller, nor is it a soft-core sex thriller, so those going into it thinking it will be may be disappointed at the subtle pace and casual character development.  However, those viewers who are looking for an absorbing tale of loyalty and redemption, the slow-boil of the film's pace will reap many rewards. It features a brilliant performance by Patric, combined with stylish direction of Jim Thompson's film noir novel of the same name, and makes for some thought-provoking, intelligent entertainment -- not your typical Skinemax late-night thriller. 

If you want to make it a double feature, After Dark My Sweet also makes a great companion piece to the other notable Thompson adaptation, The Grifters. Who said B-movies can't deliver A-grade material?

Qwipster's rating:

1998 Vince Leo