Bright Lights, Big City

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It's hard to care much about Jamie Conway, an aspiring novelist who is dissipating his substance in New York on cocaine and parties: Fox hasn't the range to play anguish, so the explanatory voice-over is less a survival from the best-selling novel than a necessity. Why is he doing this to himself? It's a cry for help, of course, and there's a lengthy monologue at a concerned colleague's apartment that brings any dramatic thrust to a stop. Jamie's wife (Cates) has left him, and his beloved mother (Wiest) has died of cancer, so he clings to bad influences like Tad the Lad (Sutherland). 'The Bolivian Marching Powder' finally gives him a nose-bleed, which forces him to take stock of his soul, and in a risible piece of symbolism, he trades his shades for a loaf of bread like Mother use to bake. Some telling cameos, however: Robards as a boozy bore who once hobnobbed with the greats of American Lit; Houseman as an etymological pedant; Wiest in a wonderfully moving death-bed scene.

Release details

Duration: 107 mins

Cast and crew

Director: James Bridges
Screenwriter: Jay McInerney
Cast: Michael J Fox
Kiefer Sutherland
Phoebe Cates
Swoosie Kurtz
Frances Sternhagen
Tracy Pollan
John Houseman
Jason Robards
Dianne Wiest
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