By Leah Rozen
January 12, 1998 12:00 PM

Julie Christie, Nick Nolte

Christie, whose film appearances have been few and far between lately, makes a gloriously luminous return in Afterglow. Playing a former B-movie star who now spends her days at home in a ratty bathrobe watching her old horror films while her fix-it man husband (Nolte, all raffish fun here) tools around with other women, she is by turns frumpy, glamorous, witty, vicious and always incandescent. The movie, written and directed by Alan Rudolph, is less so. A modest tale of two couples in crisis (Lara Flynn Boyle and Jonny Lee Miller play the other couple), Afterglow is charming if you’re in the mood to be charmed, irritating if you take it too seriously or too closely question its characters’ behavior and motivation. But every time Christie is onscreen, her golden hair shimmering and her eyes glinting like a cat’s, any faults the movie may have are forgiven and forgotten. (R)