That Night

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That Night
That Night 1992 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Craig Bolotin
Produced by Arnon Milchan
Stephen Reuther
Screenplay by Craig Bolotin
Based on That Night
by Alice McDermott
Starring C. Thomas Howell
Juliette Lewis
Eliza Dushku
Helen Shaver
Music by David Newman
Cinematography Bruce Surtees
Edited by Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • August 6, 1993 (1993-08-06)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7,000,000
Box office $20,473

That Night is a 1992 American coming-of-age romantic drama film written and directed by Craig Bolotin and starring C. Thomas Howell and Juliette Lewis. It is based on the novel of the same name by Alice McDermott.[1]

This film marks the film debut of both Eliza Dushku and Katherine Heigl.


In 1961 Long Island, Alice Bloom (Eliza Dushku) is a ten-year-old girl who is trying to understand how love works. She is infatuated with the girl across the street, 17-year-old Sheryl O' Connor (Juliette Lewis). She often looks at her from her bedroom window. Alice starts to copy every detail about Sheryl, including her perfume and even the record she listens to. She admires the affection that Sheryl's father gives her, as she doesn't receive the same from her own father. She then tells her mother about how amazing Sheryl is but Alice's mother pays little attention.

One day she goes bowling with some of her friends and is ridiculed by them. Reeling from comments made to her, she immediately becomes excited when Sheryl walks into the bowling alley along with a group of guys trying to win her affection. Sheryl, seemingly innocent and moral, rejects their advances. Sheryl meets the counter boy named Rick (C. Thomas Howell). They are instantly attracted to each other. As Alice continues to bowl with her friends, she constantly watches Sheryl's every move. Her friends doubt she even knows Sheryl. Rick pages Sheryl to come back to the desk, and a police officer tells her that her father just died.

During the funeral, Sheryl is obviously upset. Afterwards she returns her bowling shoes to the bowling alley. Rick tells her they are closed, and she starts crying over her father. After some conversation, Rick walks Sheryl home, and this leads to their first kiss which is seen by Alice. The next day Rick comes back with his gang, and they take Sheryl to the beach, where they have oysters and tequila and Sheryl pours her heart out over her father's death. They spend the whole day and night together.

All is not well, however. Sheryl's mother disapproves of the relationship between her and Rick. Eventually, she bars her from seeing him, and the neighborhood begins to gossip. Sheryl refuses to listen to her mother. Sheryl babysits Alice and a friendship begins with Sheryl imparting wisdom about boys. Alice offers help to Sheryl to sneak out and see Rick. The three of them spend much of the night together which includes bringing Alice to seedy places like dive bars and under the boardwalk. She also makes a record in a booth detailing everything that happened that night.

Alice continues to help Sheryl and Rick hide their relationship. She goes to the bowling alley to explain to Rick why Sheryl couldn't see him one day. Alice's father tells her to stay away from the older Rick. It's revealed that Sheryl is pregnant. Her mother decides to send her to an unwed mother's home 300 miles away. Rick repeatedly calls Sheryl's house only to have her mother tell him not to call. Finally, he and his gang drive to her house where Rick pleads to speak to Sheryl. This captures the attention of most of the immediate neighbors. Her mother informs him that Sheryl is gone and he is to leave. He refuses to believe her and pushes her aside to go into the house. The neighborhood fathers then rush to help Ann, and a brawl ensues between Rick's gang and the neighbors. Rick spends a week in jail and it's assumed that no serious charges were filed.

Alice becomes withdrawn from the incident and she decides to run away. Rick finds her under the boardwalk and the two talk. Reluctantly, Rick agrees to drive upstate with Alice to meet Sheryl at the unwed mother's home. Alice arranges for Sheryl to sneak out at midnight to meet Rick at the restaurant.

The couple meet but Sheryl has decided that she wants to put the baby up for adoption. She realistically can't see a life with Rick and a baby. They have no money or viable jobs. Rick is upset and hands her an engagement ring that he suggests she pawn. Alice then talks to Sheryl and asks her what happened to true love. Sheryl tells her that she is simply too young to understand. Alice still wants the three of them to run away together. Sheryl tells Alice that she can't leave her family. As Alice is put on a bus back to Long Island, she stares out the window as Rick and Sheryl embrace.

Alice makes it home, and her parents are relieved to have her back. She states that despite the gossip about Sheryl, she received a postcard telling her the truth: Sheryl and Rick were well on their way to the west coast and they were doing well. Alice then reveals that she learned some things that summer that she would never forget.



The film itself received mildly positive reviews, but the performances by Dushku and Lewis were praised.

David Stratton, in Daily Variety wrote "This isn't exactly riveting material, and the film's modest production values seem more suited to the small screen. Nevertheless, [D]ushku makes the hero-worshiping moppet an engaging character, and Howell is just right as every suburban mom's idea of a daughter's undesirable boyfriend. Lewis, her hair dyed blond, is more than adequate as the vivacious Sheryl."[2] Janet Maslin in The New York Times expressed detailed disappointment in the number and depth of changes made in the film, and found Lewis' "slinky, demonstrative performance is way out of proportion to the tepid film built around it."[3] Entertainment Weekly graded the film "B-", remarking that director Bolotin "leans too heavily on period detail, but That Night clicks whenever it taps into the crazy, stupid madness of teen lust."[4] In Rolling Stone magazine, Peter Travers wrote that while book author McDermott made clear how the intensity of the teen romance changes Alice's life, first-time director Bolotin offers a "pale facsimile that traffics in too many coming-of-age clichés", but concluded, "what makes That Night worth seeing is a knockout performance from Lewis, who evokes the joy and confusion of sexuality. You can't take your eyes off her."[5]


  1. ^ Alice McDermott - biography, plus book reviews & excerpts.
  2. ^ Stratton, David (December 9, 1992) That Night. Variety. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 6, 1993) That Night. New York Times.
  4. ^ Burr, Ty (August 20, 1993). That Night. Entertainment Weekly.
  5. ^ Travers, Peter (August 27, 1993). That Night. Rolling Stone.

External links

  • That Night on IMDb
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