A stylish film that is a very sincere look into the adult film industry of the 1970’s and 80’s.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julliane Moore, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Genre: Drama

Boogie Nights is the type of bold movie that we need to see more. It’s based on something that is considered to be ‘immoral’ and ‘taboo’ by a large part of the society; the pornographic film industry. But this film is so non-judgmental in the way it approaches this subject and the people involved in it. That’s what makes Boogie Nights so genuine. Moreover, it perfectly captures the mood and atmosphere of the time period in which it is set in (the 70’s and 80’s). The real star of the movie is director, Paul Thomas Anderson. He is the man with the plan and he navigates the story with utmost finesse.

Boogie Nights is set in Los Angeles. The opening scene of the film is gloriously shot. It takes place in a nightclub where the camera continuously revolves around the place introducing us to the various characters. Everything about this scene is so great; the angles, the music, the colors. It sets the tone for the rest of the film. We are introduced to a young dishwasher at the club named Eddie Adams (played by Mark Wahlberg). Eddie is approached by a pornographic filmmaker named Jack Horner (played by Burt Reynolds) who wants Eddie to star in his films. Eddie eventually accepts this offer and enters into the fold of the adult film industry during the ‘Golden age of Porn’ of the 1970’s.

Jack Horner and his film cast and crew

The movie depicts the adult film industry with utmost sincerity. There is a whole hierarchy of people involved. There are people working hard to make a living. This industry has the same traits you would expect any other business to have. The film also excels in capturing the emotions of the actors involved in these films. Boogie Nights makes a statement that their line of work doesn’t make these people any less human than all of us. They also have feelings and they face their own personal problems. Pornography is their livelihood just like all of us have our own jobs.

An adult film being directed

The story of the film follows the rise and subsequent fall of Eddie Adams (also known as Dirk Diggler, his stage name) in the adult film industry. In this way, Boogie Nights also satirizes the ‘glamour’ of the show business and the ups and downs involved with it. Along the way, we are introduced to numerous other characters that are actors in the films including Rollergirl (played by Heather Graham), Amber (played by Julliane Moore) and Reed (played by John C. Reilly). All these people have their own idiosyncrasies and add more depth to the story. We get to witness the prejudice and bias that these people have to deal with due to being involved in their particular line of work. The role of Dirk Diggler was a breakthrough one for Mark Wahlberg and he gives a very energetic and passionate performance. But the best performance comes from Burt Reynolds who has a great deal of command over his acting.

One of the things that make Boogie Nights stylish is its use of revolving shots (as seen in the opening scene). There is another scene of a party at Jack’s house which makes use of this cinematography technique. These shots are a prime example of efficient storytelling. You get a sense of the whole atmosphere of the film in a matter of seconds. Moreover, the flow of the film also becomes smooth.  Another aspect of the movie worthy of praise is the soundtrack. The songs used in the film have the power to transport you to the 70’s and 80’s. The music and cinematography perfectly complement each other.

Overall, Boogie Nights is a somewhat soft-hearted look into its hard core subject matter but it does not lack any sharpness. This film has the potential to make you both laugh and cry. It will certainly make you sympathize with its characters. But most importantly it will help demystify the controversial adult film industry as it shows the humanizing aspect of it. Boogie Nights perfectly capture the emotions, moods and desperations of the people it depicts and the time in which it is set in.