Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) is a Yuppie word processor who lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side. While dining at a restaurant, he strikes up a conversation with Marcy (Rosanna Arquette), who gives him her telephone number. Later in the evening, Paul calls her, and she invites him to a loft in Soho. On the way there in a speeding cab, the $20 this anxious singleton planned to use to pay the fare flies out the window. Out of money, Paul will soon be out of his mind and at the end of his rope.
When he gets to the loft, Marcy is out, and her roommate Kiki (Linda Fiorentino), a sexy sculpturess, asks for a massage. Although quite kinky, she's not as loopy as Marcy, who turns Paul off with stories about her former husband and the agonies of being raped for six hours by a violent boyfriend.
In the presence of these women, the uptown word processor feels like he's from another planet. Before the evening is over, Paul will be shocked by a suicide, mistaken for a burglar, and chased by a group of angry vigilantes from the community.
After Hours is based on a screenplay by Joseph Minion. The film can be taken either as a straightforward study on singletons, a Kafkaesque comedy about paranoia, or a grownup's nightmare about not being able to find one's way home. Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus makes the most of the dark, eerie streets of Soho at night and evocatively captures both the emptiness of the Terminal Bar and the wildness of Café Berlin an all-hours club where punkers are celebrating Mohawk Night.
Griffin Dunne offers a sympathetic performance as Paul, who is alternately bewildered, battered, frightened, angered and very frustrated by his long day's journey into night. The other women who prey upon Paul are Teri Garr as a lonely barmaid who keeps a circle of mousetraps around her bed and turns hostile when she doesn't get her way; Catherine O'Hara as the driver of a Mr. Softee truck, who turns out to be no softie herself; and Verna Bloom as a middle-aged sculpturess who finds a clever way of keeping Paul at her place. In the spirit of other Scorsese films (Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Raging Bull and The King of Comedy), this one puts us inside the skin of an outsider.