“Last Night,” written and directed by Massy Tadjedin, 90 minutes, rated R.
“Last Night,” the latest chapter in a recent wave of organically-generated movies deconstructing relationships, contributes a lot to the subgenre, but doesn’t match the emotional wallop of those that have come before it.
The film stars Sam Worthington and Keira Knightley as Michael and Joanna Reed, a financially well-off married couple living in New York.
Their relationship is tested one night when, at a party, Joanna notices just how much Michael fancies his co-worker Laura (Eva Mendes). Is it Joanna’s paranoia and insecurity, or is there more to it?
Doubts about Michael’s commitment linger as he leaves for a business trip (where he’ll stay in the same hotel as Laura). The morning of his departure, Joanna runs into an old flame, Alex (Guillaume Canet), a Frenchman whom Joanna spent two months with years ago while on a temporary “break” from Michael.
With Michael away and Joanna alone in New York, both push the limits of faithfulness and fidelity as they knowingly put themselves in situations rife with temptation.
Considering the quality of the actors (Knightley, Worthington and Canet are always a pleasure to watch) and the honesty that Massy Tadjedin injects into the dialogue, “Last Night” lacks feeling. Where “Blue Valentine” or “The Freebie” are emotionally stirring, “Last Night” leaves you surprisingly indifferent.
Michael and Joanna are smart and sophisticated, but they’re also largely unsympathetic, which stems from their dishonest nature. They withhold information from each other and lie to themselves, showing only glimpses of feeling until the end of the final act.
There is a freshness, however, in the film’s perspective on cheating, blurring what is often portrayed as a clear-cut line. Joanna’s temptations are of the heart, while Michael’s attraction to Laura is purely physical.
On top of her thought-provoking presentation of relationships, Tadjedin shows off her natural gift for storytelling, unraveling Joanna and Michael’s complicated back story through their conversations with Laura and Alex. With a movie so reliant on those conversations, it’s a good thing that the dialogue is as engrossing as it is.