Taglines: It’s 6.00am. Do you know where you are?
Jamie Conway (Michael J. Fox) is an aspiring writer and yuppie living in New York City who seeks oblivion in cocaine and the glittery nightclub scene as his life falls apart (his wife leaves him, his mother dies, etc.). With his hard-partying friend Tad Allagash (Kiefer Sutherland) tagging along with him during their nights out, Jamie finds it increasingly difficult to show up every day at his unfulfilling job as a fast checker for a literary Manhattan magazine.
Bright Lights, Big City is a 1988 American drama film directed by James Bridges, starring Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland, Phoebe Cates, Swoosie Kurtz, Frances Sternhagen, Tracy Pollan, John Houseman, Dianne Wiest, Charlie Schlatter, and based on the novel by Jay McInerney, who also wrote the screenplay. It was the last film directed by Bridges, who died in 1993.
About the Story
The film follows one week in the life of 24-year-old Jamie Conway (Michael J. Fox). Originally from Pennsylvania, Jamie works as a fact-checker for a major New York magazine, but because he spends his nights partying with his glib best friend Tad (Kiefer Sutherland) and his frequent cocaine abuse, he’s on the verge of getting fired by his boss, Clara Tillinghast (Frances Sternhagen).
His wife Amanda, a fast-rising model (Phoebe Cates), just left him; he is still reeling from the death of his mother (Dianne Wiest) from cancer a year earlier; and he follows a tabloid story about a pregnant woman in a coma. The movie captures some of the glossy chaos and decadence of the New York nightlife during the 1980s, and also looks at a man desperately trying to escape the pain in his life.
After Jamie gets fired from his job, he goes on a further downward spiral with more cocaine and alcohol abuse. He attempts to go on a date with Tad’s cousin Vicky (Tracy Pollan as a favor. Jamie also avoids phone calls from his younger brother Michael (Charlie Schlatter) who has come to New York to look for him. Megan (Swoosie Kurtz) attempts to help him out with finding a new job as well as try to open up about his troubled life and the reason why Amanda left him.
After a confrontation with Michael, and attending a party where Amanda is in attendance, Jamie finally decides to open up and come clean with himself before he ends up either dead or in jail. He phones Vicky and tells her that he and his brother Michael helped their dying mother commit suicide to end her suffering. Jamie refuses Tad’s offer of more drugs and women to spend time with and leaves the party.
Bright Lights, Big City (1988)
Directed by: James Bridges
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland, Phoebe Cates, Swoosie Kurtz, Frances Sternhagen, Tracy Pollan, John Houseman, Dianne Wiest, Charlie Schlatter
Screenplay by: Jay McInerney
Production Design by: Santo Loquasto
Cinematography by: Gordon Willis
Film Editing by: George Berndt, John Bloom
Costume Design by: Bernie Pollack
Set Decoration by: George DeTitta Jr.
Art Direction by: Tom Warren
Music by: Donald Fagen
Distributed by: United Artists
Release Date: April 1, 1988