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  Kiss Daddy Goodnight Gloomy Uma
Year: 1987
Director: Peter Ily Huemer
Stars: Uma Thurman, Paul Dillon, Paul Richards, Steve Buscemi, Annabelle Gurwitch
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: At night, beautiful Laura (Uma Thurman) dolls herself up and meets random older men in bars. She lets them take her home, only to drug and rob them later. But then someone starts stalking Laura, trailing her every move before eventually attacking the two people closest to her.

Even screen goddesses have to start somewhere and while Uma Thurman supposedly loathes Kiss Daddy Goodnight, this obscure indie footnote marked the feature film debut of the then-seventeen year old starlet. Austrian filmmaker Peter Ily Huemer, whose subsequent work was largely for German television, squanders a promising premise on what amounts to a listless, meandering, navel-gazing, non-drama laced with pretentious allusions to poet Paul Celan and various other philosophers. Most of these quotes come from William (Paul Richards), the elderly intellectual in the apartment next door with whom Laura seemingly shares a genuine friendship. Although awkwardly scripted, with an amateurish nod to Vertigo (1958) as William lost a daughter named Lara whom Laura predictably resembles, their relationship is the only interesting aspect of the movie which otherwise puts the whole “obsessive stalker” plot on the backburner.

Huemer shifts the focus onto Laura’s, frankly rather dull, friend Sid (Paul Dillon), a frustrated musician on the run from the cops after robbing a record store (“Well, that’s one way to break into the music business”, quips Laura). Sid’s only aim, repeated ad nauseam, is to hook up with his old pal Johnny and get their band back together. Even though everyone, including Laura, tells Sid this idea is a non-starter, he remains adamant. So we follow Sid around New York, through various uneventful encounters where people either tell him Johnny is a loser or worse, stare blankly. Inept sound recording combines with Dillon’s sub-Sylvester Stallone mumbling to make the point of this subplot even harder to fathom. Incidentally, Johnny is played by none other than Steve Buscemi, who gives the most grounded, believable performance in the whole movie as a guy quietly resigned to his hopeless existence. He is on screen for about three minutes and is no more enthusiastic about reforming the band than anyone else Sid has met, which one can interpret as either a bleak existential punchline or a call to punch Peter Huemer in the face for wasting our time.

While its faults are legion, the film is of vague interest as a snapshot of New York independent cinema in the mid-to-late Eighties, caught between the industrial art-house aesthetic of Andy Warhol and the quirky yet accessible storytelling of the Nineties and beyond. Towards the third act the film morphs into a psycho-thriller as Laura finds her mother murdered and the killer inflicts a knife wound on Sid to make him look guilty, but since we have so little invested in these arch, unfathomable, grunge chic types, it is hard to stay involved. Most viewers are likely to agree with Uma on the merits of this film.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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