Boogie Nights (1997)

I recently read an article in which Mark Wahlberg was explaining why he asked God to forgive him for Boogie Nights and saying he made some poor choices when he was young, as if doing the Transformers 4 was a good idea. Well, it gave me the push I needed to finally watch it.

Paul Thomas Anderson's film is set in San Fernando Valley, LA, in the 1970s and tells the story of Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), a high-school drop-out who is working in a nightclub. He is soon discovered by Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), a renowned porn director. Under the screen name Dirk Diggler, he quickly rises to the top of his industry but he's also sucked in the lifestyle of the pornography industry. 

It's a very simple, rise-and-fall type of story that revolves around the porn industry but there's much more to it. It's indeed quite powerful and deals with many themes such as self-destruction, redemption, family values, hope and self-deception. The latter is probably the strongest, as most of the characters are victims of their dreams. 

And that is why I loved the fake happy ending. The characters are basically as they were at the beginning of the film, but they are different. Their disillusions and dreams are gone, and they are lifeless, especially Eddie as he says "I am a star. A big bright shining star". It's almost the same sentence he says at the beginning, "I'm going to be a star. A big bright shining star", but there's no emotions, no hope in his voice, we don't even get to see his face. All we see is his penis, the real star. Doing so, the film effectively shows what the porn industry does to people, how it takes away their humanness and turns them into money-making machines. 

New Line Cinema
The most impressive aspect of Boogie Nights is its characters. The film is full of characters with wonderful characterization and equally wonderful development. It's impossible not to feel something for them, whether it's love, hate or the ability to relate to them. There's probably too many of them though and I would have liked some to have more screen time (like Don Cheadle's Buck).

Anyway, the performances are great all-around. Mark Wahlberg is great as Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler, the confused kid desperately trying to be someone. Julianne Moore is brilliant as Amber Waves, a drug-addict porn star desperately trying to get the custody of her son as it is Heather Graham as the Rollergirl who starts off as eye candy but ends up stealing the show. Great performances also come from Don Cheadle who is playing a porn star trying to get by besides doing movies, William H. Macy as a husband with a moral-less wife, John C. Reilly as Eddie's partner and friend and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a timid homosexual sound recorder. The biggest performance is delivered by Burt Reynold. He's truly terrific as the sleazy porn director. 


  1. This is such a great movie, but like most with Philip Seymour Hoffman in them now, I get sad knowing he's not with us anymore. :(

  2. E' il film di Anderson che amo di più, uno specchio lucidissimo e fedele di un'epoca che non c'è più (ovviamente non mi riferisco al porno ma agli anni '70). Attori bravissimi, sceneggiatura di ferro, ironia e dramma che bilanciano perfettamente una storia corale. Purtroppo in Italia non ha avuto grosso successo (ovviamente, visto l'argomento, è stato ignorato dai media) ma col tempo è diventato un piccolo "cult". Bella recensione!

    1. Hai ragione ed è un vero peccato. Che poi in TV se ne vedono di tutti i colori (vogliamo parlare delle sfumature di grigio e sequel in prima serata su Canale 5?), ma un capolavoro come questo è "scandaloso" solo perché non parla di una storia d'amore ma è ambientato nel mondo dell'industria pornografica. Che poi ce ne sarebbero di cose da imparare da questo film!