A Double Feature

Amos Lassen

I missed both Alan Rudolph’s “Afterglow” and “Ray Meets Helen” during their original runs so this Blu ray was a great surprise. Double Feature] [Blu-ray]

“Afterglow” is a  romance about a handyman who wreaks havoc and builds romance in two marriages. Desperate to have a baby, Marianne hires Lucky Mann to remodel a nursery. There’s just one problem: Marianne’s not pregnant and her husband isn’t interested in sex.

“Afterglow” stars Nick Nolte as Lucky Mann and Julie Christie as a blue-collar husband and wife who have separate affairs with a much younger couple: cold, distant businessman Jonny Lee Miller and Lara Flynn Boyle, a horny, unhappy homemaker whose life gets a boost from the advances of Nolte’s handyman womanizer. Christie is in many respects the ideal Rudolph heroine: gorgeous, radiant, otherworldly. She provides a poignant and heartbreakingly human center to the beautifully realized universe of damaged souls and missed connections. Nolte more than holds his own against Christie complementing her aloof, depressed beauty.

In “Ray Meets Helen” we have bizarre, unrelated turns of events. Ray (Keith Carradine) and Helen (Sondra Locke,) each happen upon large sums of money which give them the chance to re-invent themselves. This new wealth lets the two old-timers to flirt with rebooting their lives

Ray is a onetime boxer who never made it, who now works  for insurance investigator Harvey (Keith David). On one such job investigating an armored-car mishap that left millions of dollars just laying around, he sees Andre (Joshua Johnson-Lionel), a young kid sneaking around with a suspicious backpack. He later realizes the boy has a large stash of money.  Andre is strangely blasé about the money thus allowing Ray to walk off lots of money and plans to reinvent himself.

Helen is a loner from farm country who stumbles across a woman who has just killed herself. Mary (Samantha Mathis) left her a note, an impromptu will leaving her estate to whoever should first encounter her corpse. Weirdly, Helen takes her up on the offer, leaving the body for someone else to worry about.

Both protagonists share their homes with ghosts of their younger selves filled with reminders of the possibilities they once had.

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