Monday, October 26, 2009

Bright Lights, Big City (1988)

Starring Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland, Phoebe Cates, et al
Rated R, 107 minutes

Jamie Conway (Fox) is in trouble. His life has spiraled out of control. Working as a fact checker at a well-to-do magazine in New York, he's lost touch with his true aspiration - to be a writer. Doing cocaine in bathrooms between double vodkas, he just can't find the energy to sit down and write. His friend Allagash (Sutherland) is no help, frequently supplying more women and more blow. At the root of his problems are the death of his mother, and estrangement of his one-time-wife Amanda (Cates). But he's deliberately ignoring the former, and the latter is just another distraction from sanity.

The cast was terrific. Michael J. Fox's talk-and-drink monologue with the bottle of wine was a highlight, and I got misty when he finally confronted the death of his mother. But I wasn't into the whole story. Or lack thereof. The movie covers the events of one week, with generous flashes back. Jamie Conway is fighting his demons and trying to find some normalcy. But we're not clear on his entire background, and I never felt connected to the character.

Sure, I can see he's not doing his best, and he's crying for help. But there's a lot I think I'm missing that would help me fully sympathize with him.
I didn't feel his dying passion to write. I wasn't sure how close he and his wife were before she left.


"Bright Lights, Big City" will probably stay on my proverbial shelf for those reasons, but it wasn't a waste of time.

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