why Cranky is in pain
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do     Contact    Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

Top Selling DVD     Books

Grand Budapest Hotel
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Bug's Life
Chronicles of Narnia set
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE


Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

Alice in Wonderland
Beauty and the Beast
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Princess Mononoke
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy


Starring Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn and Willem DaFoe
Based on the novel by Russell Banks
Written and Directed by Paul Schrader
Website: www.lionsgatefilms.com/affliction.htm

IN SHORT: Portrait of a man in dissolution. [Rated R. 110 minutes]

The sins of the fathers may be passed on to the sons, but when all that they leave behind are incomplete stories enacted by more than competent actors, Cranky wonders what the point is supposed to be. Yeah, I know damn well what time of year it is and how all the kick ass heavy dramas and superior performances are held back in the Oscar® wannabe race, but Cranky does not like wasting his time watching good actors trying to make silk out of incomplete and open ended stories which is what director Paul Schrader has inflicted on us.

The film is called Affliction, and in it lead Nick Nolte sinks his teeth into a more than interesting character. Divorced, well into midlife crisis and settled in a tiny New Hampshire town, Wade Whithouse (Nolte) spends his time as local cop, school monitor and, in the off hours, well digger. This one-horse town is well controlled by a real estate developer named Gordon LaRiviere (Holmes Osborne) who "takes care" of his people. LaRiviere is the number one employer, number one politician, in Yiddish words he'd be called a gonstermacher, which means "big man." It's not a nice title.

Wade's daughter Jill (Brigid Tierney) prefers the company of her mom and stepdad, and everyone is scared of Wade's father. Usually drunk, physically abusive to wife and kids, Pop (James Coburn) is the piece of gravel permanently stuck in Wade's emotional shoe. We see grainy flashback scenes of a youthful pop beating up on his kids. We meet an elder pop who delivers his abuse in much different ways. Wade's brother Rolfe (Willem DaFoe) has left town to become a teacher and tells the story in voiceover narration. Remaining characters include Nick's girlfriend Margie (Sissy Spacek) and his much younger best friend Jack (Jim True), an ex-AAA ballplayer whose arm went bad.

It's the classic portrait of a man on the edge. With a rotten tooth in his mouth and no money in his pocket, Wade still yearns for the American dream of wife in the house, daughter in her room and dad long out of his life. There are many ways out of desperate situations and while Affliction doesn't mine old territory, it doesn't break any new ground.

Truth is, folks, Cranky hates writing reviews like this. All the performances are fine. All the characters are well developed and the situations that play out, for the most part, are not forced. Nolte's character is in a truly emasculated position, for when a local bigwig is accidentally killed in a hunting accident, he is essentially told to look the other way. But it's mid-winter in a snow blocked northern town and the mind tends to fantasize all sorts of conspiracies. As other bits and pieces of his life fall out of place concurrently, Wade's life goes to Hell.

Schrader's film doesn't carry the emotional impact it should. Affliction must have been a damn good book, 'cuz there's plenty of story and background to make a damn fine movie present. The script fails to develop any of the ideas.

The problem with Affliction is one which has bothered Cranky all his life. I don't like stories that don't have an ending. Stories that leave enough of a hole that you have lots of room for discussion and speculation. It's even worse when the writer, as is the case here, deliberately says that they have nothing but an assumption as to what happened.

Almost as an afterthought we learn that an important supporting character has been killed by one of the principals. Does it have a great effect on the story we've just seen? Nope. Stories are over and the murder is just part of an epilog. When the whole point of the piece is to show the total breakdown of the principal character and the effect on everything around him, you as a ticket buy shouldn't have to figure it all out after you've left the theater.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Affliction, he would have paid...


Wait and rent. Cranky didn't like this kind of storytelling in film school. He doesn't like it any better as a consumer.

amazon Click to buy films by Brad Pitt
Click to buy films starring David Thewlis
Click to buy films starring B.D. Wong

buy movie posters

The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995  -  2015   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.