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Cinema Veritas

By Cristina V. Coletta

The Morning After

Directed by Sidney Lumet

At the USA Cheri

WE ALL HAVE those days when we wish we just hadn't gotten out of bed. Thanksgiving 1986, was one of those days for one Alexandra Sternburghen alias Viveca Von Loren (Jane Fonda), a down-and-out, little-to-be-thankful-for actress. Lolling around in the sheets of a stranger's bed, she rolls over to find that her lover of the previous eve has a large machete stuck in the middle of his chest. "If that's one of those trick knives, you can pull it out now." Its no trick. Its genuine ginsu.

So begins veteran Director Sidney Lumet's latest flick, The Morning After, a thriller which saunters through the demimonde of Los Angeles, a synthetic world of high society hairdressers, third-rate actresses, and drag queens.

Lost in this bleak landscape is the vivacious Madame Von Loren. Supported by her hairdresser ex-husband (Raul Julia), she stumbles from one bottle of Stolichnaya to the next, oblivious to the craziness of the world outside her pink walls. Oblivious, that is, until she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a man she doesn't even remember meeting, let alone killing.

In steps nice guy ex-cop Jeff Bridges to help her sort out the mess she's in and fill up her bare life and refrigerator while he's at it. He's the kind of man any woman would count herself lucky to find, adept at making dinner while helping you beat a murder rap. And without burning the sauce. It takes a while for Viveca to warm up to this knight-in-shining apron, but it's only a matter of time before the sparks start flying and the buns start burning.

The Morning After is a smooth thriller. The scene in which she removes all incriminating fingerprints is a sure bet to go down in cinematic thriller history. But don't try to figure this baby out. One very slim clue is all you ever get, and as any aspiring Spencer knows, one ain't enough.

But the point here is not to try to second guess the director or screenwriter by guessing who set Viveca up. Lumet just wants you to sit back and absorb the atmosphere. Let the dirt of L.A. sink into your skin and relish the experience of seeing Jane Fonda look worse than you for once.

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