Heart of Midnight (film)
|Heart of Midnight|
Heart of Midnight UK VHS cover
|Directed by||Matthew Chapman|
|Produced by||Andrew Gaty|
|Written by||Matthew Chapman|
|Starring||Jennifer Jason Leigh
|Edited by||Penelope Shaw|
|Distributed by||The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
|Release date(s)||November 10, 1988|
|Running time||93 minutes|
|Box office||$113,000 (domestic)|
Heart of Midnight is a 1988 American thriller film written and directed by Matthew Chapman and starring Jennifer Jason Leigh. The story follows a young woman with a troubled past who has a hard time dealing with the reality of her new surroundings. The original soundtrack for the film was composed by Yanni and it marks one of his first major recordings.
Carol (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a young woman recovering from her recent, although not the first, nervous breakdown. She has just inherited Midnight, an abandoned nightclub in a seedy neighbourhood that was previously owned by her recently deceased mysterious uncle Fletcher (Sam Schacht). She moves out of the home of her trashy mother Betty (Brenda Vaccaro) and into the nightclub and starts renovating it in hopes of re-opening it one day soon. However, she quickly finds out that things are not as they seem as she discovers a secret section of the club that was being used as a brothel catering to clients with sexually perverted tendencies.
Carol becomes a victim of rape at the hands of three burglars who break into the club. Due to her history of psychological problems, the police have a hard time believing that what she's telling them is the truth. She makes a friend in Lieutenant Sharpe (Peter Coyote), a detective who claims to have been sent in to investigate the break-in and who seems to believe her story. However, Sharpe is later revealed to be an impostor who was previously imprisoned because of Carol's uncle Fletcher.
Cast and characters
- Jennifer Jason Leigh – Carol Rivers
- Peter Coyote – Sharpe / Larry
- Brenda Vaccaro – Betty Rivers
- Sam Schacht – Uncle Fletcher
- Jack Hallett – Lawyer
- Nicholas Love – Tom
- James Rebhorn – Richard
- Tico Wells – Henry
- Steve Buscemi – Eddy
- Frank Stallone – Ledray
- Denise Dumont – Mariana
The film received mixed reviews from critics with some praising the filmmaking and acting while others criticized the storytelling. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film two and a half stars out of four and proclaimed that "Chapman is a better director than he is a writer" as well as concluding that "I am not sure he knows where he's going with this film, but he gets there in style." Vincent Canby of The New York Times stated that "the dialogue is clumsy and the suspense is nil" and gave his reason for this by explaining that Carol is a "young woman who may or may not be crazy. This gives the director license to be bizarre without having to justify anything." Variety magazine noted in its review that the "performances are strong all around, particularly by Leigh and Vaccaro." Hal Hinson of The Washington Post noted that the storytelling is "haute macabre and hopelessly silly" but, at the same time, admits that "Leigh is a marvel." In spite of the generally agreed upon consensus that the story of the film was flawed, it still managed to win the Best Film award at 1989's Festival de Cine de Sitges.
- Ebert, Roger. Heart Of Midnight, Chicago Sun-Times, March 3, 1989. Accessed October 8, 2008.
- Canby, Vincent. Heart of Midnight (1989), The New York Times, March 3, 1989. Accessed October 8, 2008.
- Heart of Midnight, Variety, January 1, 1988. Accessed October 8, 2008.
- Hinson, Hal. Heart of Midnight, The Washington Post, March 6, 1989. Accessed October 8, 2008.