End of the Night

Director: Keith McNally
Screenwriters: Keith McNally

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


The mid-life crisis of a married man whose inability to cope with his wife's pregnancy becomes the ostensible impetus for his wanderlust: this is the subject of an offbeat and moody first feature by transplanted Englishman Keith McNally. Utilizing the tal-ents of a trio of gifted and accomplished film artists, including cinematographer Tom DiCillo, who photographed Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise, editor Ilavon Hasperg, who worked with Rainer Fassbinder on numerous films, and the composer for most of Wim Wenders's films, Jurgen Knieper, McNally creates a noirish New York, dark and distanced, a mixture of European alienation and American edginess. Eric Mitchell plays Joe Belinsky, a taciturn and straitlaced clerk at an insurance company, whose discovery that his wife is expecting, combined with a physical problem in his ear canal, begins to drive him to distraction. He loses his job but quickly gets another, as a counterman at a late-night diner. His chance encounter with a sexy French woman, whom he pursues and captures in a flight of mad passion, leads to a growing duplicity and estrangement from his former life. Unable to remake contact with her, he becomes completely obsessive and relentlessly pursues her trail, even chasing anyone who resembles her. His search brings him into the nightclub netherworld of the after-hours city and culminates in his final break with middle-class life and responsibilities. End of the Night is a tightly controlled and foreboding vision which follows the inexorable descent of its everyman protagonist. As stylish as it is unsettling, the film's ever-increasing momentum thoroughly grips the audience and leaves us with a sense of our own precarious mortality.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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