Last Night

Last Night


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Indie filmmakers have fallen in love with troubled romance lately. From the death throes of a marriage in Blue Valentine to distance dilemmas for the Transatlantic pair in Sundance Film Festival winner Like Crazy. Now, joining them in the Kingdom of Troubled Trysts, is The Jacket scribe Massy Tajedin's directorial debut Last Night.

But when a film is concerned with love on the rocks, it's important that even if the characters aren't invested in the relationship or its outcome, that the audience are. Here - as with both of those other films, to a lesser extent - the set-up is so slight that its almost impossible to generate any enthusiasm for the central pair. In fact, it becomes more interesting to guess what ridiculously flimsy pretext will cause Keira Knightley to strip to her knickers next - she does this multiple times, so there's plenty of fun to be had throughout the runtime - than to guess what will happen to her character.

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When we first meet Joanna (Knightley) and Michael Reed (Sam Worthington), they're already on the verge of a spat, so it's almost impossible to work out what passes for 'normal' with them. They're at a party and Michael seems just a little bit too attentive where his work colleague Laura (Eva Mendes) is concerned. Joanna can't wait to get him home and have a blazing row about it - although she comes across more as petulantly jealous than upset. The perfect send off then, for Michael, who is due to go on a business trip the following day with, yes, you've guessed it, lovely Laura.

To indicate that fidelity can present its challenges in mysterious ways, no sooner is Michael away with the pixie than Joanna finds things are starting to heat up on the home front with the unexpected arrival of old flame Alex (Guillame Canet). Will Michael live down to Joanna's expectations and will she find that straying is more interesting than staying on the straight and narrow? Better ask whether you'll stay awake long enough to find out.

What follows is a night of temptation for four, as the pairs shift a large quantity of alcohol while baring their souls every 10 minutes or so. The emotional tension remains stubbornly flat, with the piano scoring from the usually reliable Clint Mansell failing to help. Knightley and Caumet do what they can and have by far the more interesting of the storylines. But the scripting is woeful, peppered with so-bad-it's-almost-funny gems such as Joanna's observation of: "You smell the same." being countered by Alex's, "So do you." Meanwhile, Worthington is so wooden it's a wonder rubbing up against Mendes doesn't cause him to spontaneously combust. Then again, it would be foolishly optimistic to expect sparks of any kind in this night to forget.

Reviewed on: 29 May 2011
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A married couple find their fidelity tested on a night apart.
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Director: Massy Tadjedin

Writer: Massy Tadjedin

Starring: Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet, Griffin Dunne

Year: 2010

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US, France


Tribeca 2011

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If you like this, try:

Blue Valentine