New On Netflix: Bright Lights, Big City

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The Dark Side of Michael J. Fox‘s The Secret of My Success, Bright Lights, Big City follows the downward spiral of a young aspiring novelist whose days are spent at a dead-end job as a fact checker for a New York magazine and whose nights are fueled by double vodkas, cocaine and nightclubbing, a descent into personal hell guided by his Machiavellian colleague (Kiefer Sutherland, who’s excellent). He’s also haunted by the recent death of his mother, enraged at his model wife leaving him and obsessed with a tabloid story covering the plight of a “Coma Baby.” Jay McInerney’s chronicle of disillusioned yuppiedom in ’80s New York City worked better as a stream-of-consciousness novel (written in the second person, at that), but director James Bridges (and Fox) deserve credit for creating a cohesive character study that actually offers the occasional insight as to why the Big City inspires such fast-forward self-destruction. Indeed, Bright Lights, Big City ends up being something of a dirge (remixed as a piece of synth pop, anyway) for a glitzy, trashy decade and the decadence it brought with it.