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About Last Night...
USA 1986
Directed by Edward Zwick
Running time 113 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


As much as a film is a visual medium its core is always its script. At the heart of About Last Night... is David Mamet's stage play “Sexual Perversity In Chicago”.  Although the screenplay was by Tim Kazurinsky, Denise DeClue, and Zwick, no doubt Mamet provided the essence of this quite effective film about the trials and tribulations of a young couple starting out in the world.

Zwick was making his feature film debut and probably the best that can be said for it is that he managed to get such good performances from Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, who the previous year had appeared together in Joel Schumacher’s thematically-related but far less effective St. Elmo's Fire. The strength of Zwick's film is that it does not simply reiterate the sappy Hollywood romantic model but actually tries to explore the conflicting dynamics that make sexual relationships such painful experiences.

Danny (Lowe) and Debbie ( Moore) are attractive young post-adolescents who hit it off and soon move in together in the first flush of love. The day-to-day realities soon kick in and their unpreparedness starts to show with increasing hurtfulness…and so it goes.

To capture the development of a relationship and to do it convincingly in the relatively short running time of a feature film is no mean feat but About Last Night... does it well.  Acting as destabilizing influences, Danny's womanizing best friend (James Belushi) is an overly exaggerated boor but on the other hand Debbie's roommate, Joan (Elizabeth Perkins) is much more believable. This shortcoming I assume we can attribute to the screenwriters (although Belushi had been in the stage production) as can we also the too upbeat ending which sugarcoats what is otherwise a surprisingly convincing film.

 

 

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