EPFC | March 11th, 2019
MARVELOUS MOVIE MONDAYS!!
guest curator: Ariel Kavoussi
The theme for this month: “WHAT’S THE BODY GOT TO DO WITH IT?” This March, I will be selecting short film & video work that explore questions of the body.
For my second film in this series, I’ve chosen a very early short film by Jane Campion called “After Hours” (not to be confused with Martin Scorsese’s film “After Hours” which came out a year later).
Developed in partnership by Women’s Film Unit of Film Australia in 1984, “After Hours” tracks the investigation of a young woman’s sexual harassment charges against her manager.
Because it was a work-for-hire, Campion had felt she had less creative control than she would like to have had on this short and subsequently, she has come to have been highly dismissive of the project. She once told an interviewer: “I don’t like ‘After Hours’ a lot because I feel like the reasons for making it were impure. I felt a conflict between the project and my artistic conscience. [Because of funding] The film … had to be openly feminist since it spoke about the sexual abuse of women at work. I wasn’t comfortable because I don’t like films that say how one should or shouldn’t behave. I think that the world is more complicated than that. I prefer watching people, studying their behaviour without blaming them. I would have preferred to have put this film in a closet.”
While not as on-point or nearly as compelling as Campion’s later work, I think the film embodies more nuance and beauty than Campion gives it credit for. As film critic Ben Kooyman wrote concerning the film in “Senses Of Cinema” : “ After Hours conveys Campion’s patented sense of tactility – of fabrics, of objects, of the surface of water, and so on..” Laurie McInnes’s camera work is graceful and distinct (with additional cinematography by Campion herself).
And it’s much less didactic than I think Campion believes. Why exactly does Campion show another couple (a boss in a consensual relationship with his secretary) if not to introduce subtleties into this story? Why does the boss have such a sympathetic character qualification (he is a dog trainer and finds solace in animals) if he is to only play villain?
There are Easter Eggs of nuance, beauty and observation all over this incredibly human film.
Please enjoy Jane Campion’s most overlooked work – “After Hours”!