The plot of any Sheryl Lee film can be summarized in a single question: "When will Sheryl take her clothes off?" Despite the outward appearance of a plot involving Nick Nolte's role as an American spy pretending to be a despicable Nazi radio personality named Howard Campbell, knowledgeable filmgoers will instantly recognize the true storyline of "Mother Night" when Sheryl does indeed disrobe. Director Keith Gordon should have stopped his film there because that was really the end of the movie.
This plot was carried out a little more effectively in "Fire Walk With Me," when director David Lynch had Sheryl disrobe late in the film and not so well in "Backbeat" when Sheryl disrobed for no apparent reason right in the middle of the film. I held out some hope that Sheryl's fortunes had changed when I heard she was in a play called "Salome" with Al Pacino until a friend who saw the production described it as "Al Pacino sticks his face in Sheryl Lee's crotch."
This film is supposed to be an adaptation of a novel by Kurt Vonnegut, who's best known as Geraldo Rivera's ex-father-in-law. We're supposed to ponder the meaning of morality as Campbell attempts to do something good but ends up doing something bad, which makes him wonder whether he's bad at being good or simply bad. Got it? Good.
Rather than contemplating the morality of men, one is compelled to analyze the sanity of director Keith Gordon for bothering to adapt a Vonnegut novel in the first place. Good books they may be; potential films they are not. At one point, Gordon actually uses Vonnegut in his film. In the credits he is listed as "Sad Man on Street." If I were in any way responsible for this film, I'd be sad too.
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