on December 30, 1998 by Ed Scheid
"Affliction" is writer/director Paul Schrader's engrossing adaptation of the novel by Russell Banks ("The Sweet Hereafter"). Wade Whitehouse (Nick Nolte) is the sole policeman in a small economically-depressed town in New Hampshire. He is reduced to being a school crossing guard and doing odd jobs for a rich businessman. The emptiness of Wade's life is reflected in the film's desolate and snowy landscapes.
When a man is killed while hunting, Wade believes the man was murdered. Like Sylvester Stallone's character in "CopLand," Wade hopes that solving the murder will redeem his wasted life.
Nolte, in peak form in one of the best performances of his career, is supported by a top cast. Schrader's screenplay creates a complex web of relationships, and his direction maintains an acute tension as Wade struggles to prevent his resentment at life from exploding into the family cycle of violence. "Affliction" is a gripping story that puts a new spin on familiar Schrader themes of masculinity, fate and retribution. Starring Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn and Willem Dafoe. Directed and written by Paul Schrader. Produced by Linda Reisman. Drama. A Lions Gate release. Rated R for violence and language. Running time: 114 min.
Tags: Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn, Willem Dafoe, Paul Schrader, police, economy, New Hampshire, crossing guard, mercenary, snow, murder, helplessness, adaptation

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