Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22

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Critic Reviews

  1. Romantic comedies usually strike one or two moods, but in Afterglow, the writer-director Alan Rudolph runs through rainbows of feeling in a single scene.
  2. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    Followers of Alan Rudolph's career will rejoice at his latest effort, Afterglow, an incredibly and incurably romantic comedy-drama that most perceptively dissects the delicate imbalances of two very modern but very different marriages.
  3. 80
    It's a first-rate chamber piece for actors, but Julie Christie brings a particularly layered depth to what could have been a very flat role; a combination of bereaved mother and castaway wife. Her torment and her intermittent joys are so fully communicated that they anchor the film.
  4. Even after the film's last half-hour descends into a silly season, Mr. Rudolph writes and directs with obvious affection for his characters and with a deep knowledge of whatever makes them tick.
  5. 80
    Afterglow gets off to a weak start—and it's occasionally hampered by stilted dialogue and cutesy conceits; Nolte's character is named Lucky Mann—but it is nevertheless a strong, frequently touching film that benefits from a pair of brilliant performances by Nolte and Christie.
  6. 80
    Although Afterglow bears the lyrical slow-zooms, tracking shots, and idle character development Rudolph learned while working as an associate director on such Altman classics as Nashville (where he first met Christie), it's safe to say that much of the film's strong critical reception is due to the director's showcasing Christie's undiminished movie-star grace so reverently.
  7. Reviewed by: Simon Braund
    Proceedings are further distinguished by Christie who is simply outstanding in a fiercely demanding role. It's an utterly absorbing performance and the keystone of a film which could, with some justification, be labelled a small masterpiece.
  8. 75
    While these may not be the most unusual themes to fashion into a motion picture, Rudolph's atypical approach to the characters and their situations makes for an intriguing, if not always pleasant, movie.
  9. Mate swapping is so '70s. But Alan Rudolph, who wrote and directed Afterglow, avoids making it seem dated by presenting the menage a quatre as accidental.
  10. 75
    The plot to this point could be the stuff of soap opera, but there's always something askew in an Alan Rudolph film, unexpected notes and touches that maintain a certain ironic distance while permitting painful flashes of human nature to burst through.
  11. Nick Nolte gives a superb performance and Julie Christie is positively incandescent.
  12. New York Daily News
    Reviewed by: Dave Kehr
    At his best, as he is here, Rudolph is always able to locate the emotional reality inside the dream. [26Dec1997 Pg53]
  13. 70
    As a character study, the film is sensitive and precise, but the weak plot often flounders. Ultimately, Rudolph is a master at conveying mood, and gives Afterglow a melancholy feel that wisely never gives in to total despair.
  14. The film itself tends to wander as it pokes around uneasily for its tone. Yet this is also, undeniably, the source of much of the film's charm. Afterglow bathes the screen with a warm amber light.
  15. Despite his flair for trenchant dialogue, nicely complemented by Mark Isham's bluesy jazz score, Rudolph whets our appetite but then fails to deliver. The picture limps to its ending and leaves us with nothing to hold onto.
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  1. Jan 19, 2012
    This immoral and involuntarily couple-swapping modern-day allegory has its conspicuous foible to cater for a wider demography, aThis immoral and involuntarily couple-swapping modern-day allegory has its conspicuous foible to cater for a wider demography, a self-consumingly pitched battle falls unfulfilled, one can feel the highly-contrived scheme runs amok at the latter part, and the films ends in an emotional gratification which is too Utopian to be credible to believe. The film garners a third Oscar nomination for the divine Julie Christie (after a 26 year hiatus since MCCABE & MRS. MILLER in 1971), whose role is the thorniest among the two pairs, and the film's pathos concretely hinges on her crack knack to embody the old lady who has her personal magnetism to fling with a frigid and wealthy pretty boy (only half of her age) at a convincing ease. Julie gracefully accomplishes her mission meanwhile Nolte, Miller and Boyle are all in solid shape to enliven their characters with ample credibility, although the thunder remains to belong to Ms. Christie. The central trauma orbits a childless status quo, which both couple yearn to alter, Christie tries to find her daughter back (who has deserted her 8 years ago after overhearing a hidden truth); while the bourgeois young wife Boyle is in eager to get pregnant when his sexually glacial husband refuses or is unable to commit the task. The mirror reflection has been exerted as a recurring gambit in the film, and the not-so-often witty wisecracks could be derived from director/writer Alan's strenuous endeavor on the script. Overall this low-budget marital vignette delivers a dramatic thesis on the lust-harvesting adult world with less-than-eloquent material and theatrical mechanics. Only Julie Christie exhibits a satisfying portrayal to deserve the time and dime we proffer. Full Review »