Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
Directed by: Massy Tadjedin
Running time: 1 hr. 32 min.
Release date: May 6, 2011 (limited)
Genre: Drama and Romance
Distributor: Tribeca Films and Miramax
MPAA Rating: R
In a well crafted character study film examining the do(s) and don't(s) of a marital relationship, Last Night offers its audience the infamous question of - what if? Questioning commitment and temptation while harboring infidelity is a topic used in many films, such as Indecent Proposal (1993) with Demi Moore, Robert Redford and Woody Harrelson.
The setting is contemporary Greenwich Village, New York City where a married couple, who while apart for one night, are confronted by temptation that may decide the fate of their marriage. Joanna (Academy Award nominee Kiera Knightley) and Michael Reed (Sam Worthington) are seven years into a successful and happy relationship. However, the beautiful young writer Joanna has doubts about her commercial real estate developer husband Michael. Their two separate yet successful careers keeps them apart at times. At a company party held by Michael's firm, Joanna observes soft spoken Michael paying attention to one of his co-workers, the sensuous Laura (Eva Mendes) whom he never spoke of to Joanna. Joanna feels this act of attraction between Michael and Laura indicates unfaithfulness, although the co-workers never engage in anything physical in nature.
The moment of reality sets in when co-workers Michael, Laura and Andy (Anson Mount) are sent on a business trip to Philadelphia for a weekend. In various scenes, Eva Mendes gives her best performance to date as a she takes her Laura character to a higher dimension. The character is not a femme fatale or predator but a vulnerable woman who falls in love with a married man. Meanwhile, Joanna encounters a former lover Alex (Guillaume Canet), whom she never quite forgotten from their past in Paris. She decides to have dinner and drinks with Alex which last into the next morning.
This is a well balanced plot teetering between not being a judgmental narrative, and giving highlights to a character study of human faults and weaknesses to enhance a thriller of emotions. I found myself feeling close to their feelings and wondering how things would play out in a suspenseful manner. I was torn apart in wondering what each person would do in their respective situations as each partner unaware of what was happening.
The quartet of actors are well cast for their roles. However, I had problems with Kiera Knightley's lack of authentic sexual chemistry displayed on screen. She did not convince me of her passion, emotion and her affectionate involvement of the main male characters. She did keep my interest in exerting an abundance of flirtation in her performance which allowed me to honestly feel her journey that their love takes them through marriage.
Examining the film closely, I was impressed with the setting and atmosphere and how the plot flowed all the way through the film. The one night of temptation between the partners with flashing back and fourth the progress of the two couples is successful in its theme. The question that last in this film is whether emotional infidelity is worse than physical infidelity, or is it the other way round?
FILM RATING (B)