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directed by Paul Schrader
USA 1997


The powder keg in the small New Hampshire town has a name: Wade Whitehouse, keeper of the peace. As played with fierce, anguished intensity by Nick Nolte, who gives the performance of his career in Paul Schrader's quietly stunning new film, Wade works part time as Lawford's policeman and knows that his hardest job is policing himself.

But during the devastating course of "Affliction," Wade begins losing a lifelong struggle with his army of demons, and his carapace starts to crack.

With gut-wrenching pity, the film watches pressures mount until Wade explodes.

"Affliction" is adapted, as "The Sweet Hereafter" was, from a penetratingly astute, grief-tinged novel by Russell Banks, whose stirring voice is much in evidence here. But its story is also well suited to Mr. Schrader, who finds in Wade's suffering a workaday "Taxi Driver" in the snow. Mr. Schrader coaxes forth the oppressive forces around Wade until they achieve microcosmic fullness, ranging from childhood beatings by his father to the covert economic rape of a working-class town. Though ponderous literary voice-overs (from Willem Dafoe as Wade's brother) provide armchair psychology, the film is about much subtler signposts on the road to destruction.

Excerpt of review from Janet Maslin located HERE


Theatrical Release: January 15th, 1996 (USA)

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DVD Review: Artificial Eye (Spine # 172) - Region 2 - PAL

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Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:49:24

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.66 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer
• Behind the Scenes Footage (5:22)
• Interview with Nick Nolte (1:42)
• Interview with James Coburn (:42)
• Interview with Sissy Spacek (:48)
• Interview with Willem Dafoe (:41)
• Interview with Paul Schrader (2:46)
• Cast and Crew Filmographies

DVD Release Date: February 19th, 2001
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Chapters 23





Like a few of the other Artificial Eye titles that I've reviewed recently, Affliction is long out of print. Fortunately, those interested in picking up the film have a number of options from several regions. While I can't comment on any of these other editions, I can say that even though it's currently available for a pittance on's marketplace, you'd still probably be best served picking up another addition. While I'm generally a fan of Artificial Eye's releases and consider them one of the most important distributors working today, this one seems to suffer from some of the problems plaguing their releases from the early part of the decade.

The film itself is easy enough to recommend. While I don't consider it to be Schrader's most accomplished work, it's still quite strong and features exquisite performances by its leads (including the criminally underrated Jim True-Frost). The script, adapted by Schrader from Russell Banks's novel, defies any genre classification and I found it deeply satisfying from start to finish.

While the film is quite good, the disc is not. The biggest problem here is the transfer. The flashback scenes are intentionally distorted, featuring excess grain and artifacts caused by purposeful manipulation. No problem there. But, the scenes that are set in the film's present day suffer from a distinct lack of clarity. Often times the images are dull and hazy, resulting in a distinct lack of detail. For a film that was shot on 35 mm stock and released a scant four years before the disc came out, one would expect more. The disc's Dolby stereo soundtrack is competent enough, without any unwanted noise, but the release also lacks subtitles. Finally, I was a bit let down by the extras as well. When I saw that the film contained a 'behind the scenes' feature and cast interviews, I expected substantial features that would give me a deeper understanding of the film and its production. Instead, the featurette was nothing more than a few minutes of raw footage of the principles during a few takes and the interviews lasted, for the most part, less than a minute each. Indeed, these weren't interviews so much as they were actors expounding on a single point and then going silent.

I strongly recommend this film, but I have to say that this edition is a bit of a disappointment. Although I can't definitively say this without examining other editions, I strongly suspect that you'd be better served buying one of the other editions currently in print.

 - Brian Montgomery


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