Friday, June 8, 2012
Movie Review: Boogie Nights (1997)
A journey through the heyday of the pornographic film industry, Boogie Nights pays homage and shares a laugh at the expense of an industry transitioning from scummy cinemas to the video players of mainstream America. It is also one of the best films of the 1990s.
Paul Thomas Anderson's second feature film elevated him to the front ranks of directors. Working from his own script, Anderson creates in Boogie Nights a character-rich environment, with memorable personalities grappling with the changing times within a burgeoning industry. The rise and fall of Dirk Diggler is just the surface story. Anderson builds a rich, multi-layered universe, with plenty of depth to all the assorted weirdos and misfits that congregate around porn manufacturing.
Incredibly, these are only some of the people and stories that Anderson makes time for in Boogie Nights. They all come to life naturally, hustling to make a buck, facing their demons or succumbing to them, adapting or dying, in a business that is unforgiving, awash in drugs, enormously popular and yet almost entirely hidden.
The sex scenes are dealt with in the matter-of-fact manner that only the porn industry can conjure, and yet Anderson finds the soft seam where real people meet their on-screen personas: Amber guiding Adams through his first ever scene is a triumph of sex-as-work having to overcome vulnerability with sheer courage and compassion.
Despite a running time of 155 minutes, Boogie Nights is breezy, entertaining and often funny. Although the decline and fall of Diggler is less enjoyable than his spectacular rise, Anderson keeps the narrative brisk and the multiple stories progressing, while a deep soundtrack of era favourites provides a vibrant musical backdrop. Boogie Nights dances up an impressive sweat.
All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.