Review: After Dark, My Sweet

After Dark, My Sweet is a film from 1990, based on the Jim Thompson book of the same name from 1955. I have read a number of Thompson’s books, but have not got around to this one yet. I was interested in watching this film because it was based on Thompson’s work.

This film is directed by James Foley. Foley seems to be the go to neo-noir director of smaller budget films over the last 30 years or so. He even has directed some neo-noir style television shows in his long career.

This film starts with Jason Patrick wandering around in the desert. Patrick plays Kevin ‘kid’ Collins an ex-boxer with some mental issues. This story is told in the first person from Collins’ perspective and lets just say he is an unreliable narrator, a trademark of Jim Thompson’s books. He soon finds himself in a bar when femme fatale Fay Anderson, played by Rachel Ward, walks into the bar. Collins tries to strike up a conversation with Fay, but when Fay doesn’t seem interested the bartender comes to her aid. Collins knocks out the bartender and takes off, knowing he will soon be in trouble if he stays. When Fay sees Collins’ skill with his fists, she chases him down and brings him home. Collins soon meets Uncle Bud played by Bruce Dern. Uncle Bud has a plan for some quick money and wants Collins’ help and the double crosses soon start. Who can Collins trust…or even believe, including himself.

From what I understand, this movie stays pretty true to the book, this means we get plenty of 1950’s noir dialog. I enjoyed the dialog quite a bit, but this may be lost on today’s film fans. The story is hard to follow since the narrator is untrustworthy, it is difficult to figure out what he has imagined and what is real. The story is interesting and original if nothing else. I enjoyed the film and think neo-noir fans will enjoy it too, especially fans of these kind of films from the late 80’s and early 90’s.

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