Alan Rudolph's Afterglow (1997) strives to be the alt-romcom for people who look down on romcoms. It burns slowly, ends unhappily, and camouflages its trusty clichés under arch manners. Tinged with sepia and laden with flat ironies, it's a film to which datedness has been preemptively disallowed, but in its cultural context of nineties knowingness, the derivations and unsophisticated sexual politics make it feel immediately stale. Caught between voguish indie sensibilities and well-worn romcom quirks, it's a half-baked product that fails to rise.
Photo © 1997 Sony Pictures Classics/Sandcastle 5 Productions