I praised on this site Russell Banks’s novel Affliction, and I wish to praise Paul Schrader‘s film adaptation of it as well. Nick Nolte fits well the role of Wade Whitehouse, the tormented working-class man, and even though he rants a lot, such passion is generally appropriate. The film is photographed (by Paul Sarossy) and designed the way a picture about small town life in New Hampshire should be, notwithstanding the essence of this life simply cannot be captured as well, as deeply, as it can be by Banks’s words. The sequence wherein Wade follows in a vehicle Jack Hewitt (Jim True) is nicely done, as are the shots of Wade going ballistic over a lengthy toothache.
Sissy Spacek (as Wade’s girlfriend) is fine with tragic material, and Holmes Osborne is lively and resourceful as Gordon LaRiviere, Wade’s harassed and sometimes charming employer. This 1997 picture is very dark, too dark, but it is pretty faithful to the book. And it’s a film for adults—a profound one, if less profound than its source. The novel ought to be read, the movie seen.