Nov 192019

After Hours (IMDB) is a 1985 comedy directed by Martin Scorsese. This is one of the single-scene works covered in this project.

Paul, a lonely word processor in mid-80s, midtown Manhattan, meets Marcy in a late night cafe. She invites him to visit her downtown in Soho, which leads to a bizarre series of late night encounters.

One of them is with Kiki (Linda Fiorentino), Marcy’s roommate. We’re introduced to Kiki in just a bra and a skirt, spattered with paper mache. She’s a sultry contrast to Marcy, who is blonde and innocent-looking.

Kiki (Lina Fiorentino) and Paul (Griffin Dunne)

After she gives Paul a black pinstripe shirt to replace the one he dirtied with her sculpture, he offers her a massage for her sore shoulders. 

Kiki: “Just make it hurt and you’re on the right track. That’s all I know.”

Mid-massage, Paul says, “You have a great body.”

Kiki: “Yes. Not a lot of scars.”

Paul: “That’s true. It never occurred to me.”

Kiki: “I mean, some women I know are covered with them from head to toe. But not me.”

Paul: “Scars.”

Kiki: “Mm hmm. Horrible, ugly scars. I’m just telling you, now.”

This leads into a suddenly dark scene of Paul describing being a child placed in a burn ward in a hospital. Kiki falls asleep in the middle of it.

After an abortive attempt at a date with Marcy (who seems to have bipolar disorder or something else that causes sudden and extreme mood swings), Paul leaves and tries to go home, but circumstances conspire to keep him in Soho.

Paul (Dunne) stumbles into Kiki’s (Fiorentino) bondage scene

Eventually, Paul returns to Kiki’s place, trying to return one of her sculptures which he thinks was stolen. This time, Kiki is gagged with cloth and wearing elaborate Japanese-style rope bondage with white rope. Paul assumes that she was tied up by the same people who stole the statue, and starts to untie her.

Actually, she was tied by her boyfriend, Horst. He’s introduced in a menacing shot which focuses on the crotch of his black jeans and the studded leather wrist band on his right hand. The camera moves up to reveal the black leather harness he wears over his black tank top. Paul is clearly intimidated by him, especially when Horst says Paul was rude to Marcy. Horst says this was a “Lack of discipline.”

Paul goes back to Marcy’s room to apologize, only to find that she has died of a drug overdose, which sets off another chain of encounters with bizarre characters.

BDSM appears again when a couple of leathermen are in the background of a scene, tongue kissing in plain view. At this point, Paul is so brain-fried he doesn’t even notice this.

Mohawk Night at Club Berlin

Paul later tries to track down Horst and Kiki at a place called Club Berlin, filled with punk music, chainlink fences, and punks and new romantics. He’s only able to get in because it is “Mohawk night” and the bouncer and a large bald black man who wears sunglasses at night try to give him a Mohawk. Paul glimpses Horst and Kiki, just sitting at a table by themselves, before he flees with his hair mostly intact. BDSM was a part of the NYC club scene in the mid 80s.

After Hours plays like a parable of sexual guilt. Paul’s sexual desires lead him out of his comfort zone, and things just keep going wrong, and somehow he is to blame. He ends up fleeing from a vigilante mob who think he’s a burglar that has been robbing the neighborhood.

Horst and Kiki’s bondage scene is just another instance of the bizarre excess Paul encounters that fills him with either fear or guilt.

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