The Morning After - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Morning After Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2011
A smart and suspenseful neo-noir well-directed by Sidney Lumet, with a sensationally dynamic Oscar-nominated performance by Jane Fonda, as once promising actress named Alex Stembergen, who wakes up with a fierce hangover with no memory of how she ended up in bed next to a murdered man, with a knife in the middle of his chest. Sternbergen is a spiraling down drunkard who is convinced that she had a blackout and stabbed the deadman. Jeff Bridges delivers a terrific performance that is suitably sturdy as Turner Kendall an ex-cop who takes a interest in Stermbergen, and tries to help her unravel this mystery. The late Raul Julia is memorable as Joaquin Manero, Stermbergen's Hollywood hairdresser devoted ex-husband. The developing relationship between Stembergen and Kendall is beautifully played by Fonda and Bridges, who have real chemistry together, and the plot and the storyline instantly draws us in, and continues to keep us hooked until the surprising ending. Entertaining and compelling. Highly Recommended.
Super Reviewer
January 23, 2011
Luv neo-noir movies and would like to see a youthful Jeff Bridges...interested!
Super Reviewer
½ January 8, 2011
Jane Fonda gives an incredibly nuanced performance as a spiraling down drunkard, she researched the tragic 40's star Gail Russell who drank herself to death at 36 to fully understand her characters plight of a once promising actress reduced to blackouts and infamy. Jeff Bridges is almost as strong as a stranger trying to help her out of a situation she can't even remember. The rest of the cast gives good support starting with Raul Julia on down to a pre-stardom Kathy Bates in a tiny role, the problem is that the script that all this superior work is working with is ill conceived and not terribly well directed by the usually excellent Lumet.
December 29, 2010
Excellent "whodunnit"
November 18, 2010
The Morning After opens with an extraordinarily effective scene prototypical of director Sidney Lumet's pared-down building of tension. As Jane Fonda crawls out of bed, we sense her hangover, one of those inordinately miserable mornings when nothing about you is sufficiently functional, and we also sense how accustomed she's become to these mornings as she is not only passably functional but also recognizes herself in the mirror and indeed spills some gin into a glass, speculating about the guy in her bed. Who is he? She doesn't comprehend the true gravity of her predicament until she turns him onto his back.

She sees no cop is going to buy her story, so she attempts to remove all the evidence of her stopover. And then she rambles back out, into the intense Los Angeles light. And in a shot from high overhead, she seems like a lab rat, ensnared in some sort of a experiment. It's so well directed that we almost forget how preposterous it is to think this frame-up would ever work.

This beginning promises an exceptional thriller. Alas, The Morning After never matches its initial potential, not as a thriller, at least. The narrative has some gaping disparities in it, and thrillers need to be impermeable. This one chalks various elements up to pure coincidence, the ultimate motives are flimsy at best and the fact that the body keeps reappearing like a cartoon or a take-off on The Trouble with Harry brings the movie too close to qualifying as '80s schlock for one to become seriously absorbed in the plot. But The Morning After merits a look anyhow, owing to the characters that it cultivates, and the performances of Fonda and Jeff Bridges in the two leads.

She plays an alcoholic actress long past her heyday. He plays an ex-cop who happens to be fixing his car right where she topples into his back seat and implores him to get her away from there, quick. Bridges stays in a petty, manufactured shed, where he repairs appliances. This is all Fonda needs. She's a veteran of the live-fast-die-young subscription, her friends all bartenders and drag queens, her separated husband Raul Julia the most upmarket hairdresser in Beverly Hills. Nevertheless Bridges is reliable and sound, and she could do with a friend. Naturally it's axiomatic that they fall in love.

The plot of The Morning After is not nearly as well captured or interesting as the day-by-day grinds of these characters. Actually, I can picture a movie that would omit the murder and just trail the genuine human development between Fonda and Bridges. The thriller filler isn't needed, although given that they used it, couldn't they have made it credible? The entire murder plot gets such slapdash treatment that perhaps I oughtn't have been startled by the big scene in which the killer's exposed. I've seen innumerable revelations in innumerable thrillers, but seldom one as transparent as this one, where the surprises are just announced in an improbable monologue. Indeed, the fact that nearly every opinion I've heard or read of this film seems unanimous in terms of James Hicks' script, including mine, even down to the 'It starts off well but then it gets really forced and jerry-built' gist, it seems pretty clear-cut what makes the film not quite work, though it'd be a misstep to write this movie off simply because the story is so rickety. It's worth making an allowance for due to the performances.

Fonda and Bridges are superb in the film, and their rapport, founded on skeletons in the cupboard, bitterness and ulterior motives, gets especially remarkable. They create tangible unspoken feelings together, and they have some dialogue that feels more alive than most starry-eyed chatter in the movies. Before the schmaltzy final scene, not even close to prototypical of Lumet, there's a single shot in which all Bridges and Fonda do is face each other, and we know, and fee, that they want to have sex with each other. It's just energy, and it works wonders.

I also admire how Lumet reinforces every color. Living in Los Angeles is part of the debilitating influence on the character played by Jane Fonda. All color is exaggerated: red redder, blue filters, orange hazes. He creates an L.A. comprised of vast flat surfaces of pastels and aggressively sunlit exposed areas. He traps the inebriated Fonda on this landscape like a helplessly insignificant insect sought for squashing by unknown feet, and the imagery makes the whole first hour of the movie much more ominous than it merits. Too bad they couldn't have take steps with the script.
Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2010
If you like murder mysteries with powerhouse acting and directing, this is the movie to see. While the story is interesting and unique, it's the characters that make you stick around. Sidney Lumet makes this such an above average movie in that it doesn't feel like a typical thriller or drama or romance, it's sort've a nice blend between all three. There's no gimmicks or cheap scare tactics, which is really nice. Jane Fonda is just so convincing as a raging drunkard, but of course she has such a lovable side to her. Jeff Bridges does what he does best, being charming and smiling a lot. While this isn't a game changer or anything, it's just a really solid and worthwhile movie.
June 29, 2010
Wonderful outset potential but slowly and without reason changes into this melodramatic almost soap operatic story that left me wondering what was the point. Now with that said, Bridges as always is wonderful and the mid '80s LA locale is a treat, a sugar free treat.
½ March 20, 2010
What appears to be very tacky and un-original, surprises audiences with it's twists and turns, drama and horror, and slight comic edge to be one of the 80's best thrillers.

This film is very compelling and captivating, as it's story is simple, making it easy to follow. An alcoholic, chakra-cleansing former high profile actress wakes up next to a dead man. Did she do it? Was she framed? Is this your typical thriller? No. What makes this picture so energetic and fresh is it's contemporary screenplay which makes you question every character you lay eyes on. The dialogue however is very dull, and could be a little more creative if the screenwriter maybe put a little more time into writing.

Jane Fonda gives a truly remarkable pre-hiatus performance which in turn makes Rual Julia and Jeff Bridges look good on-screen.

The film score is one of the worst i've heard in over ten years. It does nothing to heighten the suspense in the film, but dulls it and makes it look pretentious.

This film is inventive and original, yet fails to make the most of a superb story.
½ December 29, 2009
Très bon film avec Jane Fonda (nomination aux Oscars pour ce rôle) et Jeff Bridges...Musique et look très années 80...?a faisait un bon moment que je l'avais visionné celui-là..:-)
November 28, 2009
A reasonably good thriller, Jane Fonda does well in an Oscar nominated performance. Tense in some scenes, well acted but it's just not as gripping as it should have been, and this is surprising coming from director Sidney Lumet. I was never fully convinced.
October 22, 2009
Obscure 80's murder mystery drama that I picked up on VHS for a dime. Entertaining enough, I guess.
September 13, 2009
Really good thriller with Jane Fonda giving an excellent performance. I especially like the first part of the film, with her 'cleaning'.
August 5, 2009
more than okay, but not all that memorable. fonda does fine, bridges does better, and raul julia does best, but lumet has done greater films by far.
July 5, 2009
I will NOT see a Movie that has this Commie, Traitor, BITCH in it.
They don't have a LOW enough rating for her.
She can rot in the Hanoi Hilton, for what she did to Our troops during Vietnam.

March 17, 2009
A great "Whodunnit" plot
½ December 6, 2008
Starts off well and just goes downhill. Unfortunately it's just a bland thriller. It's not one of Lumet's best.
November 22, 2008
Exciting...very clever twist ending...
November 19, 2008
This thriller was OK at best, despite good performances.
August 28, 2008
Thsi movie opened brilliantly, but unfortunately does slide somewhat into cliche territory, which is a shame as it has many things going for it: Lumet directing, great visuals abd use of LA locations we generally dont see and a virtuoso performance from Jane Fonda. The movie should have stayed in the vain of character study , which is how it so brilliantly starts, before deciding to be a rather flimsy murder mystery. See it though, if only for Fonda's excellent work.
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