The Morning After Movie Review
Lumet earns points for starting off with a bang. The movie opens with a haggard Fonda, her feathered hair coming across like a fright wig, rousing out of bed next to a man. She's a little disoriented... who is he? She turns to wake him up, only to find a steak knife jabbed in his chest. But she can't remember the night before! Did she kill the guy? Or is this the most retarded frame-up in the history of cinema?
Advised by her estranged husband (Raul Julia) to go to the police, Fonda's Alex instead chooses to clean up the crime scene and make a run for it: Literally, she runs at random through the neighborhood until she finally gets a ride, returns home, and heads to LAX to get a flight to somewhere. Too bad it's Thanksgiving and there's nowhere she can go. (Her tearful attempt to get a flight to San Francisco is promising cinema until she abruptly changes her tune and tries to get a flight to Vegas, totally blowing the comedy and drama.)
Outside, she gets in a fender bender and makes a run for the parking garage, where she encounters a perplexed ex-cop (Jeff Bridges), who becomes her buddy for the remainder of the picture. And so we are left to figure out who the bad guy is, as the corpse reappears at random and the cops get wind of the murder. Is it Fonda, Julia, or -- absurdly -- Bridges, the guy she met at the airport!? Is he moving the body around to scare her?
Good lord, plots don't get any worse than this, and though Lumet stabs at giving all three characters a personality, the inane script from first-time writer James Hicks (you've never heard of his other two movies) drains any sense of likability or even relatability out of most of them, most particularly Fonda's Alex, who ends up as a wailing banshee of unbridled animosity, self-absorption, and -- don't forget -- rabid alcoholism. (The Morning After is presumably trying to make a statement on how bad alcoholism is, but in the end we feel it isn't the booze that's making Alex a freak, she's just that way.)
Fonda's terrible performance aside, most of the blame for this turkey falls on Lumet's shoulders for including such ridiculous scenes, such as one awful moment in which Fonda gets drunk on Thunderbird and passes out while Bridges watches. Lumet then plays foreboding, crescendoing music... as Jeff Bridges... opens the door... and... leaves!
God help us.