Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay: Joseph Minion
Starring: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, Thomas Chong, Linda Fiorentino and John Heard
Country: United States
Running Time: 97 min
Year: 1985
BBFC Certificate: 15

It’s 1984. Director Martin Scorsese has been trying to get his adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ off the ground for years, with Paramount initially offering to produce and distribute the film, before protests from religious groups scare Paramount away from the film, leading to its cancellation. This news was incredibly upsetting for Scorsese and swayed him away from tackling big budget pictures as he had been doing in recent years. In come Amy Robinson and Griffin Dunne, who were itching to adapt Joseph Minion’s screenplay One Night in Soho, a tale about a man who has the worst luck imaginable over the course of one night. Scorsese fell in love with the script and decided to accept the project, as it gave him a chance to get back to his roots of small budget filmmaking and give himself the motivation to continue with his passion for filmmaking. 

After Hours follows Paul Hackett, an every-man office worker who lives a relatively boring life. He lives alone, doesn’t seem to have many friends and while reading alone in a cafe at night, is approached by a woman named Marcy who takes an interest in him and the book he’s reading. She leaves her phone number and after debating whether or not to give her a call, he does and they plan on getting together. In Paul’s mind, this will be a quick hookup and shouldn’t be that difficult. All he needs to do is get into a cab, get to her place in downtown SoHo and everything else is golden, right? Well… 

Throughout the entire film, Paul has the worst luck known to man, and it results in a series of increasingly hilarious situations that he finds himself in. Whether it’s the money to pay for his cab ride flying out of the window, being mistaken as a burglar in the sketchy area of SoHo or not having enough money to ride the subway, who’s prices went up the very same night, After Hours puts Paul through the ringer and it’s beyond entertaining. The whole premise of following a character with bad luck, who makes bad decision after bad decision is one of my favourite sub-genres out there, and it’s clear that this film was an influence on some of my all-time favourite films such as the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems or Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. It’s something that’s only possible with the right team behind it, making you feel sympathetic towards the lead character, even if you know he’s making foolish choices along the way.

In the case of After Hours, there’s a sense of surrealism to the events you’re witnessing. The camera almost feels like it’s a character with us, an unnamed voyeur who’s giving us a peak into this world that we’re not used to. The way cinematographer Michael Ballhaus shoots SoHo makes it feel like it’s a derelict fantasy world, surely intentional given the references to The Wizard of Oz in a hilarious diner sequence early in the film. Also, the score by Howard Shore really adds this level of intensity to the experience, keeping you just as on edge as Paul is throughout the hellish night he’s having. Matched with the excellent editing by Scorsese regular Thelma Schoonmaker, After Hours is a fantastically constructed film in just about every way possible. 

The performances across the board are hilarious too, with producer Griffin Dunne playing Paul with complete sincerity throughout the entire runtime. Sometimes, Paul can be a bit of a schmuck, feeling gullible and sympathetic, while other times, he can be an arrogant piece-of-work, which you understand with the chaos he encounters throughout the course of the film. Supporting characters such as Rosanna Arquette’s Marcy, the catalyst for the events in the film or John Heard’s Tom, a bartender that ties into the events of the film more than you’d expect are incredibly entertaining to watch too, and give Dunne a lot to play off. It’s a film that has me constantly laughing from the absurdity of the events, but most importantly, the way they’re portrayed by those involved. Even if some of the characters feel out-of-this-world, they never feel dull or uninteresting to watch and they’re by far some of my favourite characters Scorsese has ever brought to the screen. Also, legendary Roger Corman collaborator Dick Miller shows up as the waiter in a diner the characters constantly go back to, and it’s always a delight seeing him on screen. 

While it’s definitely not a popular opinion to have, I’d argue that even if it’s not as grand in scale as something like Goodfellas, as much of a crowd pleaser as The Wolf of Wall Street or an in-depth look into a character’s psyche like Taxi Driver, it still might be my favourite Scorsese picture out there. There’s just something about the way After Hours feels, from the aforementioned heightened reality that the film operates in, to the style that’s oozing out of every frame, After Hours is a film I pray finds a larger audience thanks to this recent Criterion UHD/Blu-ray release. It’s a film that deserves to be ranked up there with the greats of Marty’s career, and was crucial in giving him that motivation to return to filmmaking after almost being swayed away from it completely. Thankfully, after getting his passion back here and having a hit with 1986’s The Color of Money, Universal approached Scorsese and offered him the money he needed to finally adapt The Last Temptation of Christ, which he accepted and that film, like most of his works, ended up being a favourite amongst critics and fans. A happy ending for all, right? Well, maybe not so much for Paul… 


After Hours was released on 4K UHD and Blu-ray via The Criterion Collection in North America on July 11th 2023. Unfortunately, no UK release seems to be planned and although the UHD disc itself is region free, the Blu-ray is Region A locked. The UHD disc doesn’t house the majority of the extras on the release, with only the commentary being present. I have a region-free setup, so I was able to access the Blu-ray and after checking out both discs, I’ve got to say that Criterion did an absolutely outstanding job here. The following information is presented in the leaflet included with the release: 

After Hours is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:85:1. Approved by editor Thelma Shoonmaker, this new digital master was created from the 35 mm original camera negative, which was scanned in 4K resolution on a Lasergraphics Director film scanner. Director Martin Scorsese’s personal 35 mm print was used for color reference. The original monoaural soundtrack was remastered from the magnetic track. On the 4K Ultra HD disc, the feature is presented in Dolby Vision HDR (high dynamic range). On the Blu-ray, it is presented in high-definition SDR (standard dynamic range).

The picture quality on this release is utterly stunning, and after being relegated to a DVD-only release, outside of a bootleg Blu-ray from Spain (which seemed to be sourced from a dated HD master), this is the first time After Hours has seen a true HD release, let alone a 4K one and the wait was worth it. The picture quality is stunning, and as previously mentioned, it’s sourced from a brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negatives which is great to hear. I noticed new details, such as how gorgeous the neon lighting looked during the film at night, facial features and more. The English LPCM 1.0 is great too, and sounds just as vibrant as you’d expect. Shore’s score has a major presence throughout the film, but even when there’s licensed music that plays, it sounds marvellous. The release comes with the following extras: 


New 4K digital restoration, approved by editor Thelma Schoonmaker, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

In the 4K UHD edition: One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features

New conversation between director Martin Scorsese and writer Fran Lebowitz

Audio commentary featuring Scorsese, Schoonmaker, director of photography Michael Ballhaus, actor and producer Griffin Dunne, and producer Amy Robinson

Documentary about the making of the film featuring Dunne, Robinson, Schoonmaker, and Scorsese

New program on the look of the film featuring costume designer Rita Ryack and production designer Jeffrey Townsend

Deleted scenes


English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

PLUS: An essay by critic Sheila O’Malley

New cover by Drusilla Adeline/Sister Hyde

Audio commentary – An archival (kind of) audio commentary with Martin Scorsese, Griffin Dunne, Amy Robinson, Michael Ballhaus and Thema Schoonmaker from 2004. Also included with the commentary are brand new clips with Dunne and Robinson recorded in 2023, exclusive to this Criterion commentary. Scorsese doesn’t waste time with his segments and he’s fascinating to listen to. Ballhaus talks about his experiences working with Scorsese. Dunne talks about taking the role as a risk, to shake things up from the characters he’d usually play. Robinson touches on shooting the iconic key shot in the film. It’s an informative and excellent commentary track.

Conversation between director Martin Scorsese and writer Fran Lebowitz – A brand new interview for this release with director Martin Scorsese by Fran Lebowitz. Scorsese talks about where he was in his career before After Hours came to fruition, coming off of writing the first draft of The Last Temptation of Christ as well as directing The King of Comedy. He also talks about how he pictured SoHo as sinister, which influenced his direction of After Hours. Scorsese praises the cast and crew throughout, as well as comments on some of the criticisms of the film, such as how people perceived the female characters as crazy. The conversation is lively, energetic and it’s always a delight to hear Scorsese talk about anything, and this is a great interview.

Filming for Your Life: Making After Hours – An archival featurette included on DVD releases discussing the making of the film. There’s interviews with Scorsese, Griffin Dunne, Amy Robinson and Thelma Schoonmaker. They touch on how Tim Burton almost directed the film, which was fascinating to learn about. It’s a decent featurette but tends to focus primarily on what Dunne has to say. It would have been great if it was a bit lengthier, as it’s under 20 minutes. Still, it’s worth checking out and has some great moments in.

The Look of After Hours – A brand new featurette with audio interviews from designer Rita Ryack and production designer Jeffrey Townsend. It’s a nice inclusion, and there’s fascinating topics brought up, such as the intent behind the clothing of the protagonist, some of the lighting choices and more. A worthwhile watch.

Deleted scenes – Seven deleted scenes are included, all which seem to be sourced from the new restoration which is great to see. None of them are essential, and it makes sense why they were cut to help with the pacing, but as someone who loved the film, it was great to see some additional peaks into the world of After Hours. My favourite was when Paul is in Tom’s apartment and gets a phone call from Tom’s mother. 

A theatrical trailer for the film is included.

And finally, the essay ‘No Exit’ by Sheila O’Malley is included with the leaflet and it’s a great read. It gives a concise breakdown of where life began for After Hours, as well as the reputation it garnered over the years. On the back of the leaflet are cast and crew credits, as well as the previously mentioned information about the transfer. 

While it’s by far from his most popular outing, After Hours is a personal favourite of mine from Scorsese and everything it sets out to do, it accomplishes with flying colours. Given the cult following the film has amassed over the years, it’s amazing to finally see After Hours get the release it’s always needed. With a phenomenal transfer, a great selection of supplemental features and most importantly, the prestige of being a film in the Criterion Collection, hopefully this means that the ravenous cult of fans the film has grows even more over time. It’s Scorsese at his funniest, with a powerhouse performance from Griffin Dunne and all of the style and pizzazz you could ever ask for. 


If you’d like to check my video review out for After Hours, where I show off the packaging and more, a link is included below. 

Where to watch After Hours
After Hours - Criterion
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

2 Responses

  1. MovieFeast

    Good review Leon, while it wouldn’t be my favorite Scorsese movie, it is a very good one, a great movie to watch late at night with a few beers. And yes the feeling this movie gives is something else. Must get around to watching it again and reviewing it, it’s been a while since I’ve seen this 80s gem

    • Leon Vegas

      Thank you MovieFeast! It’s one that I find myself coming back to time and time again, it’s so much fun!


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