Let's get this out of this way first : Julie Christie is excellent as Phyllis Mann in Afterglow, even if her character is a cliche - the fading ex-actress still clinging to memories of her glorious youth. But it's played with an air of self-recognition rare in this type of role - Phyllis recognizes her career as being less than ideal, even when she's living in the past. She's aware of her own self-delusions, but is almost powerless to stop them. It's a combined self-mockery/adulation that's fascinating.
If only the other actors were so good. Nick Nolte does the best he can, but with a character named Lucky Mann (easily the worst name of the year) there's only so much you can do. And as for Lara Flynn Boyle and Johnny Lee Miller - imagine a younger Andie McDowell and Chris O'Donnell as a couple. Completely repulsed? OK. Boyle and Miller are ten times worse.
And exactly what is Alan Rudolph making? The film has elements of broad farce, tragedy, truly atrocious puns, sexual innuendo that would embarrass the crassest sitcom writer, revelations of deep dark secrets, and a score that would fit a late-night Cinemax offering. (It didn't help that the screening I was at apparently only had mono sound). The end result comes across as a mess, as if Rudolph had shot with the first rough draft of the screenplay, instead of the finished work.