Last Night

10 Jul

Title: Last Night
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Massy Tadjedin
Writer: Massy Tadjedin
Starring: 
Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet
MPAA Rating: 
R, some language
Runtime: 
90 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
50%

Keira Knightley and Sam Worthing star as Joanna and Michael in Last Night, a married couple who live in a pretty swanky New York loft, with good jobs and a life together that seems as pretty close to ideal. However, we’ll see that it’s not really all that perfect, as in a night the two spend apart they are tempted an old flame from her past resurfaces and he is tempted by a colleague which introduces temptation into the scenario. And the cast is incredibly strong, and that’s why I think this film worked as well as it ultimately did, I mean Keira Knightley is certainly one of my favorite actresses and I loved her here, and alongside her are Mr. Worthington, Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet, so that’s a very handsome and talented foursome writer-director Massy Tadjedin had to work with, not to mention that her script was really nicely polished and provided them really nice material for these actors to work with.

The one thing that I will say about Last Night that prevented me from really falling into it and giving it an A-range grade was the fact that the screenplay was maybe too polished, I mean, the script by Ms. Tadjedin is tremendous in all the little things it so wonderfully manages to unearth as far as the basis of a relationship goes, and how you can become quite suspicious of your significant other, but I felt it sometimes lacked some of that gritty and human realism, and that because the script was so nicely thought out it lacked that sense of the unexpected. But that’s just me nitpicking, because this film is still pretty damn good, when you see how Ms. Knightley’s character looks at Laura, a colleague of Michael’s played by Eva Mendes, who can’t keep herself from flirting with him, you get so much from just that look, all of the unsaid verbal things that can be said with that suspicious look, and which come boiling out later on when she confronts Michael and accuses him of infidelity.

Michael goes on a business trip with Laura, actually, and as he does Joanna bumps into Alex in the city, an old love of hers played by Guillaume Canet. And the precision with which this film is written is fantastic, as we follow these parallels of extramarital flirtation going on in two different cities, and we get a kick out of the will-they-or-won’t-they game played by these characters, but beyond all of that there’s a far more fascinating meditation on adultery not as a concept about having sex with someone that’s not your significant other, but the purpose it serves in the lives of the couple, like Michael says at one point in this film: “You can be happy and still be tempted.” And I liked seeing this sort of spare and yet very thoughtful approach to the basis of a relationship, I liked it because Ms. Tadjedin very wisely reserves to pass on a judgement on their characters, not really denouncing one more than the other, you get to judge for yourself. And, for my money, you just can’t help but think Joanna and Alex belong with each other, wrong as it may be, the chemistry between Ms. Knightley and Mr. Canet made for some tremendous moments in this film.

This is sort of a film I’d watch in a night alongside Closer and Before Sunrise or something like that, because much like those excellent films I think Last Night provides a very insightful look at the riddles of the heart and the emotions that come hand in hand with them, even when the film feels a tad indulgent, you can’t help but really connect to these characters and situations, and feel drawn in by the look it provides into subjects like adultery, jealousy and just the quarter-life crisis as a whole. Because it’s not often you get a film that draws such perfect lines and intersections with its characters, characters who, tormented by the thought as they may be, acknowledge the fact that they can certainly think about being in a relationship with someone else and be just as happy, if not happier, than in the one they are currently in.

Please do go check out Last Night, I know it may feel a bit too indulgent at times, and you may get exasperated by how talky it all is, but it has to be this way to tackle in such a full-frontal way the very grown-up issues it does. Yes, the script may be a bit too polished in my opinion for the film to achieve a more sublime level, but because it is this polished and thoughtfully drawn up it manages to perfectly ask the questions it does, to take a look at the institution of marriage, to take a look at what would happen if we always acted on our desires as fleeting and human and carnal as they may be, and even though the answers it gives or the thoughts it presents may not always feel perfect, they’re always interesting to chew on, and with a quartet of performances like the ones we get from these four actors that makes for one very good film indeed.

Grade: B+

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