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159 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Paul Schrader's Affliction, adapted from the novel by Russell Banks (The Sweet Hereafter), charts the slow descent of small-town sheriff Wade Whitehouse (a raspy, gruffly restrained Nick Nolte) into violence, the legacy of the corrupt love of an abusive, alcoholic father. The story ostensibly centers on a hunting death on the outskirts of town, but as Wade digs into what may or not be a conspiracy, his personal life spirals out of control. James Coburn, who deservedly won an Oscar for his mocking, sneering performance, is Wade's father, who jumps back into the cycle of abuse when Wade moves in to care for the aging man. Chronicling the story in distant, dispassionate tones is Willem Dafoe as Wade's younger brother Rolfe, who "escaped" his father's legacy in a world of books. Schrader has made his reputation revealing the scarred psyches of American men trying to reconcile the contradictions of masculine fantasy and social reality, as in his screenplays for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, and in Affliction he creates his most poignant and powerful work. The quiet beauty of the snow-blanketed New Hampshire setting (using Canadian locations) and Schrader's restrained yet intimate cinematic style builds the underlying emotional tensions until they explode in startling close-ups, revealing the repressed fear, rage, and helplessness cracking through Wade's carefully maintained façade. As Rolfe's narration coolly analyzes his brother's affliction, he reveals his own: an emotional remove so complete that he's edited himself out of his family history. The legacy of abuse leaves no one untouched. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Nick Nolte, Brigid Tierney, Holmes Osborne, Jim True-Frost, Tim Post
  • Directors: Paul Schrader
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: July 6, 1999
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000IQVU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,868 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Affliction" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2004
Format: DVD
I saw this movie several years ago and it has stayed with me ever since. Whenever I think about the truly great films I've seen, and would like to see again, this one always makes the list as great, but I have avoided watching it again because, depending upon your childhood, it is extremely disturbing. Beware anyone who has experienced life with an abusive parent, you will see the fear and despair come to life before your eyes. James Coburn and Nick Nolte portray this type of hellish relationship with stunning realism. I have read reviews from those who, apparently, couldn't really believe that parents and children could have such a relationship. Not so, friends. This is a scathing, searing, film -- with no bullets or exploding cars. You have been warned.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ican Spell on December 19, 2004
Format: DVD
This is a truly great movie. What is going to make people either love or hate it is that it is unflinchingly real. This one EXUDES realism. It's for those of us who don't love life and aren't really happy about our present situation. It's for anyone who has ever been humiliated, frustrated and ready to lash out at the miserable world. It's bleak-just like life. Nolte and Coburn have never been and probably never will be better. The writing is superb. There are so many lines that ring true. If your favorite song is "Don't Worry, Be Happy" then you might want to skip this one. For everyone else, I suggest that you savor this classic immediately.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jarrod P. Stenberg on November 24, 2002
Format: DVD
The movie starts with Wade Whitehouse bringing his daughter to a small town Halloween party. The distance between the two is apparent and about to get worse. They arrive, daughter dressed as a tiger, Wade dressed as a cop. He is a child dressed as a man. The daughter is out of place and unhappy, making this known to Wade. Facing a challenge that is beyond him, he steps outside where he is pulled into the life of some younger people, driving around town, getting stoned and being generally small-town.
Why does Wade shy away from being a man? Because his definition of a man is his father, an abusive and alcoholic ogre. Wade has found peace in being a parody of an adult. He can hang with kids just shy of high school because he has not permitted himself to grow any older than just-short-of-manhood. He is pathetic, but he is also very amiable. He could live his whole life this way. That is, he could if he hadn't already committed to fatherhood and if the new love of his life didn't expect a bit more.
His new love, Marge, is a small town woman through and through. Perhaps she has been passed around a bit, but she has a good heart. She seems barely content with drifting through life, staying just short of ambitious. Perhaps she'll marry her bear-cub boyfriend Wade and have a family while she can. Perhaps not. She is smarter than Wade, but he is fun and harmless, it seems.
Wade's brother, Rolfe, is the kid who managed to avoid the blows of his father. He is the smart one. Smart enough to stay far enough away from his father, smart enough to distract himself from the ruins of abuse with intellectual pursuits. His intelligence bought him a way out. He is committed only to himself.
Exposing his own aggression, Rolfe plants seeds in Wade that will soon be Wade's undoing.
Read more ›
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 21, 1999
Format: DVD
Paul Schrader wrote and directed this engrossing drama of one man's self-destruction. Nick Nolte plays Wade Whitehouse, the small-town sheriff who is simultaneously the employee of the town's leading contractor. Whitehouse is basically an ignorant man, proud and tough on the outside, but still hurting from the abuse he suffered as a child from his father (James Coburn in a superbly vicious performance that won him an Oscar). The film covers the events that occur to Whitehouse during a couple of weeks in late October and November, when his life collapses around him. Nolte gives an excellent performance as the self-destructive man, persuasively playing his need to express himself and the consequences of his inability to do so. When the film centers around his relationships with his ex-wife, daughter, father, and girl-friend (Sissy Spacek, in a nice understated performance), the film scores a bulls-eye; Nolte's inability to communicate and his mounting frustration and anger are almost palpable. When it drifts into a story about the possible murder of a wealthy, mob-connected hunter and Nolte's investigation, the film becomes increasingly incoherent. It's also not helped by the dour presence and voice-over of Willem Dafoe as Nolte's brother, another victim of the family's cycle of violence. The key scene in which Dafoe--supposedly the smart one of the family--spurs on Nolte's paranoia with suggestions that the dead hunter was murdered by Nolte's friend and co-worker is a particular mess, and the final voice-over in which Dafoe laments the cost of the generations of violence needlessly spells out what we've already learned.Read more ›
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 14, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Based on a novel by Russell Banks who also wrote "The Sweet Hereafter", and directed by Paul Schrader of "Raging Bull" and "The Mosquito Coast" fame, the winter landscape and cold bleakness of the town sets the tone for this exploration of the dark legacy of what it is to be a man.
Nick Nolte stars in this dark story of a the lone policeman in a small New Hampshire town investigating a hunting accident. He is divorced and trying and to get custody of his young daughter who rejects his fumbling efforts to be nice to her. James Coburn is excellent as Nick Nolte's father, a brutal and angry old man who typifies a sick machismo which has in turn afflicted his son. His acting is extraordinary as is Nolte's although their styles are different. Noltle is subtle; his facial expressions are controlled and typical of a man who has learned to hold in emotion. Coburn's face, on the other hand, is more deeply expressive; his eyebrows move, his mouth hardens, his eyes glare.
This is the kind of dark, brooding movie that I like. For a brief few hours I enter its world and get completely absorbed in the characters in the way I did with "A thousand Acres" or "The Horse Whisperers". Like these films, there are no easy answers and the conclusion does not wrap up in a neat little Hollywood package that is soon forgotten. Recommended.
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