AFFLICTION (1997 Drama, Rated MA)
This paralysing drama of a small town sheriff whose heart and mind has been afflicted by the drunken brutality of his father, was destined for the ignominy of a "straight to video" release until wiser heads prevailed.
Here is a brooding, broiling film about a broken giant of a man, reeling from a failed marriage, a failed life and a rotten tooth that is driving him nuts!
Wade (Nick Nolte) is haunted by the violence inflicted on him by his alcoholic father (James Coburn), an old dinosaur who still thinks that men should dominate while women serve.
When a bigwig from out-of-town is killed hunting deer Wade insinuates that the accident is murder.
It would help distract him from mundane duties like manning school crossings and clearing the backwater of snow.
It would give him purpose!
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But when the pressures of pain, loss and paranoia grab hold, it's plain to see that Wade has become his father...and dad is the last person on earth he wanted to be.
Affliction is tough and gruff in the Paul Schrader way and the acting brings icicles to the spine.
The Oscar-nominated Nolte simmers with all the menace of a volcano about to pop: "I got a feelin' like a whipped dog...someday I'm gonna bite back."
And the Oscar-winning Coburn is an ornery, evil old coot who cusses his offspring as "candy-asses and Jesus freaks."
When death and delirium descends on a snowbound town, Affliction is as chilling as they come. * * * * *
Trivia: Paul Newman and James Garner both turned down Coburn's role.
Rent on Prime; preview on You Tube; Rotten Tomatoes critical approval 88 %.
* * * * * Ace In The Hole (1951, Kirk Douglas). Ground-breaking drama about media manipulation; free on Daily Motion.
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