Film review: Boogie Nights (1997), written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Set in the porn industry of 1970s Hollywood, we follow young Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), who has one great asset – a huge … well, you know. He gets snapped up by director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) in a rather creepy way, but settles into his new role straight away and it’s like young Eddie was born to be a porn star.
As Eddie – or Dirk Diggler as he chooses to be known – rises to fame, we meet his fellow actors (Julianne Moore, John C Reilly, Nicole Ari Parker, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, et al) and the crew (disgruntled William H Macy and (once again) slightly creepy Philip Seymour Hoffman), and watch a nice young man let fame go to his head and then get hooked on drugs, and so on.
Also features Alfred Molina as a drug dealer and Luis Guzmán as a nightclub owner.
Boogie Nights is a quirky drama. It’s not quite a comedy, even though it has plenty of lighthearted moments, and you might think it’s full of smut, but – funnily enough – it isn’t. There is some, because after all, that’s what the film is about, but it’s more an exception rather than the rule, as the story follows what goes on with the people who star in these films, as opposed to what’s on the films themselves.
And it’s not just fun and games to be a porn star. There is a lot of tragedy involved, and that’s what makes Boogie Nights such a great watch. It’s quite a long film, but it doesn’t feel like it, because you get sucked in. Sure, Eddie/Dirk goes from a nice lad to an arrogant cokehead (to say he’s “a bit of a dick” would be true, in more ways than one), but there are so many other characters you get to care about. Like the nice bloke who just wants to open his own hi-fi store, and the assistant director whose wife keeps on shagging everyone but him … then there’s the closeted gay, and the woman who is trying to win legal rights to see her own son, and the high school dropout who wants to go back and get an education.
It’s a motley crew on screen, played by a fantastic cast, all doing a brilliant job portraying the other side of cinema, and how it deals with things like the introduction of VHS. With that brilliant 1970s soundtrack and retro vibes, this is a film I can watch several times – in fact, I already have – and still enjoy.
4.5 out of 5 bright orange sports cars.