Affliction ★★★★

I have a special adoration for 90's murder mysteries that I don't have for any other decade or genre. Maybe it's pure nostalgia for my birth decade, or maybe I've just seen one too many ID shows or read too many Harry Bosch novels, but whatever the reason, they seem to stick to me fairly easily. What I really loved about Affliction, however, was that it took its examination deeper, rather choosing to scrutinize the repercussions of the actions of our protagonist. He's already half destroyed his life- his wife divorced him and his daughter loathes him, and his father thinks that he is a complete failure. Sounds pretty familiar, if you ask me. As Wade (Nick Nolte) investigates further into the suspicious hunting death of a friend, he starts to doubt the circumstances surrounding it, and it begins to show signs that it affects his own psychosis as well, not limited to his budding drinking habits.

James Coburn plays Glen, the drunk father of Wade and Rolfe (Willem Dafoe). Flashbacks slowly unfold a dark past between Wade and his father, which also incidentally involves heavy drinking, and give subtle clues as to what is happening in Wade's mind. It's got a bit of a slow and mildly uninteresting buildup, but the payoff is entirely worth it. Affliction just may be a film that benefits from a rewatch- perhaps I missed some subtle reference in the story that makes it a little more bearable in the main story. Or perhaps I'm just being too picky.

Either way, Affliction is a great mystery that deserves recognition. It's almost like a more serious version of Fargo, with some story elements from The Verdict thrown in. Then again, that might be the dumbest mash-up you've ever heard, since I'm fairly bad at combining films to describe another one. Just know that this is a decently great crime film that contains some fantastic performances from Nolte, Coburn, and Dafoe. Three tremendously talented classic actors all come together to make a great film that is as arresting as it is dramatic. A really under-seen film that I'm surprised I had never heard of up to this point. It's definitely worth a watch.