Affliction - C+
Viewed January 16, 1999 at Lincoln Plaza

The second Russell Banks adaptation to hit arthouse cinemas in recent years, Affliction would have been a fine naturalistic portrayal of a ticking time bomb's explosion if it wasn't for one disastrously godawful performance. No, I don't mean Nick Nolte's justly praised work as Wade Whitehouse, which is another one of Nolte's superb takes on the dark side of American masculinity. I'm referring to James Coburn's cartoonish role as Wade's father, a caricature of drunken machismo. It's distressingly one-note, and his work feels like it's based on other movies, not life; and jars badly with the film's otherwise studied naturalism. There are some other ill-considered touches -- Willem Dafoe's voiceover is grating, especially when it concludes by telling the audience what the film's subtext is. (You know, Paul, I had figured it out for myself already.)