- Title: Last Night
- IMDB: link
From writer/director Massy Tadjedin comes a tale of temptation as a married couple each find themselves fighting an attraction to someone other than their significant other during an evening spent apart.
What works so well about Tadjedin’s script is how lived-in Joanna (Keira Knightley) and Michael’s (Sam Worthington) life together feels. This isn’t your typical Hollywood romcom set of idealistic young lovers or bitter married couple. Despite a little bickering, it’s obvious the two love each other, but until the end of the film we’re not sure if doubts and temptation in the form of an old flame (Guillaume Canet) or an attractive co-worker (Eva Mendes) are enough to lure them into a decision that could end their marriage.
After fighting over Michael’s closeness with Laura (Mendes), Joanna is less than pleased that the two will leave together the next morning on an overnight work trip. As Michael learns that Joanna’s suspicions of Laura’s interests are well-founded, Joanna runs into an old flame (Canet) she never told her husband about who is in town for only a single night and obviously still carries a torch for her.
At only 90 minutes Last Night is mostly a film of conversations, first between Joanna and Michael and later with each of them talking about their lives to the people they’ve chosen to spend the evening with.
The central issue of the film deals with both a physical betrayal and a betrayal of the heart. Joanna still loves Alex but is her time spent with him more or less a betrayal of her marriage than Michael’s time spent alone with a woman with whom he shares an obvious physical attraction?
The film got a small release in May of 2010 and it’s taken me a couple of years to find it on Blu-ray. Honestly, I wish I had found it sooner as it would have easily found itself near the top of my favorite films of that year. As a fan of films that spend time with couples thinking and talking about love (such as Before Sunrise) I’ll admit to thoroughly adoring this movie.
Last Night doesn’t play it safe by giving us easy answers. As the couple come back together the next morning we know there’s all too much unsaid between them. It’s obvious Joanna and Michael can be happy together, but the truth is they might be as happy apart. This allows the script to make any number of decisions for each character.
All four of the actors are good, but as an admitted unabashed fan of Knightley (who’s terrific here) I will admit that I do prefer her story with Canet over that of Mendes and Worthington in that it’s a far more emotional minefield Joanna crosses than the simple temptation of giving into lust over a coworker that her husband is presented with.
With only a 90-minute running time Last Night flies by, but I could have easily spent twice this amount of time with these characters. We don’t need to see the conversation between Joanna and Michael the following morning, that’s really an entirely different film, but I certainly wouldn’t have minded spending another day with the couple, together or apart.
Despite finding it’s only real release on home video the Blu-ray is sadly lacking in any extras. There are no special features, no commentary, not even the film’s trailer is included. Here’s a film that almost no one saw in theaters which would have been a great opportunity to give those who came across it on DVD and Blu-ray a little something extra. Thankfully, the film is so good the extras aren’t needed to help sell the film, but I would have loved a commentary by the writer/director (with or without the cast) and even would have appreciated a token effort in the form of a short behind-the-scenes featurette.
Last Night works as a date movie, a character study into the complexities of a comfortable marriage, or simply a strong dramatic work carried out by a quartet of of talented actors. I’m not prepared to call Last Night my new favorite Knightley film just yet, but (to give you an idea on how much I thought of it) let’s just say it’s in the running.