Committed and Curious

Last Night flirts with cheating

Last Night, the directorial debut from Massy Tadjedin, is a flawed but ambitious little drama focusing on a stylish, successful pair of New Yorkers. Joanna (Keira Knightley) and Michael (Sam Worthington) have been married for three years and have been together for longer. Despite separations due to Michael's frequent business trips, they seem happy and healthy in their relationship and comfortable in their privileged Manhattan oasis.

A brief argument about an attractive co-worker of Michael's (Eva Mendes as Laura) sets the stage for what happens the following night. Michael, away on business in Philadelphia, spends the evening drinking with Laura, while Joanna unexpectedly runs into an old flame named Alex (Guillaume Canet).

Her pull towards Alex is easily understandable, as they have a short but intense history together, whereas his attraction to Laura seems to be more of a base, uncontrollable urge. We follow Joanna and Michael through their separate successions of sleek, dimly lit hotel bars and hotel rooms as they wrestle, with varying degrees of determination, to quiet their impulses.

Although it can sometimes make it feel aloof, there's something mesmerizing about Last Night's cool simplicity and its cold, luxurious atmosphere. Tadjedin frames her actors in shots often shrouded in darkness, creating images that are sometimes as obscure as the moment-to-moment feelings of our protagonists.

It's what goes unsaid that says the most, and the film's most effective moments are where glances or gestures do the talking. These moments always come by way of Knightley and Canet (and Griffin Dunne, as Alex's friend Truman), who have a magnetic energy together that's exciting enough to carry the whole film. Worthington and Mendes unfortunately create something much duller. And Worthington, the vaguely familiar looking block of muscle some may remember from Avatar and Clash of the Titans, is distractingly out of his league in scenes with Knightley.

And that brings us to the movie's main problem: Joanna and Alex's story is so good that the rest of the film feels like dead weight. Michael and Laura come on screen and suddenly we're trapped in that horrible realm: the precious problems of the rich and beautiful. Thankfully, there's enough insight in the better half to make up for much of that and to prove that this film is smarter than its worst moments. Despite everything, it's the good, haunting moments of Last Night that end up lasting.

Grade: C+

posted at 03:50 pm
on Monday, June 13th, 2011

COMMENTS

(We're testing Disqus commenting (finally!); please let us know if you have trouble.)

comments powered by Disqus

 

« Previous Page


Birth of a Nuisance

A long time ago, in an America far, far away…television news was the most trusted source of information for the public. Weird, right? In the late-60s, the country was embroiled in a heated debate...

more »


Minor Bloom

Iris Apfel is a fashion icon, still thriving in her 90s, who wears big sunglasses that are impossible not to describe as owlish. She is still building a world-renowned collection of eccentric...

more »


Myopic Biopic

Biopics are lies. Oh, don’t get me wrong, all storytelling is fundamentally fibbing. But it seems somehow more disingenuous to airbrush actual human histories, to select which warts to ignore and...

more »


Cold War Sizzle

Presumably, a reboot or remake is done to capitalize on the good will and brand recognition of an intellectual property. Do fanboys of the 1960s TV show “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” exist? Does anyone...

more »


Flash Without Flair

I fell for Ricki and the Flash’s embarrassingly enthusiastic advertising run—the poster of Meryl Streep in full rock star garb and numerous TV spots in which she praises her latest project. I fell,...

more »







Advanced Search