In her directorial debut, Last Night, Massey Tadjedin, who is also the writer, relegates the city of New York to the background and concentrates on the story and the characters. Given that she is from Iran, where discussions on relationships between men and women can invite ire, Tadjedin seems to have an incredible understanding of marriage, fidelity, and temptations. Which is what makes Last Night one of the better movies of the year.
Joanna (Keira Knightley) and Michael (Sam Worthington) are married, and they live in New York. They met in college, and are happy with each other. However, at a party thrown by Michael's colleague, Joanna meets Laura (Eva Mendes), the hot co-worker that her husband had once described as 'whatever'. Joanna suspects an affair and confronts Michael, who denies it, convincingly.
After Michael leaves for Philadelphia for a meeting, Joanna bumps into Alex (Guillaume Canet), the ex-lover that she never told Michael about. She had an on-off relationship with Alex in Paris while she was taking a break from Michael. Both Alex and Joanna have never had closure on their affair, and things seem to be headed down Temptation Road now.
The entire movie takes place over 2 nights. Joanna and Michael seem to have an easy chemistry, and they praise each other all the time to other people. Michael harbours a crush on Laura. And Joanna is pursued with alarming familiarity by her French (that explains it) ex-boyfriend, and not the other way around.
And thus, it is Joanna who becomes the protagonist of the story. The director places more emphasis on her than on the others. Joanna is not unhappy, but she is a complicated person who would rather waste time writing fashion articles than complete her book.
The sudden appearance of the French writer may not have created a wave, but there are a few ripples. He is more of an intellectual, when compared to the realtor Michael. It is easy to understand why Joanna becomes wistful.
Michael on the other hand, is just an ordinary guy who happens to be attractive. He takes his marriage seriously, and any act of infidelity will bring with it some guilt, but where Joanna is faithful because she wants
to be, Michael is faithful because he thinks he has
At more than one-and-a-half hours, the movie is slow, and you keep wondering who will slip up first, if at all. The drama is palpable, but the characters are unpredictable. In fact, they are rather sullen and lifeless, and therefore more realistic. The geographical setting is unimportant - this could be your
story, or that of your neighbour.
This is clearly Keira Knightley's movie, and she does justice to her role. Her famous pout is not required, but she does have some melancholic moments. Sam Worthington, on the other hand, seems a little out of place, especially because one is used to his Avatar
and Clash Of The Titans
roles. There are times when he comes across as an idiot, but his good looks make up for it.
The femme fatale, then, is Eva Mendes, but she plays that with such subtlety that you wonder why Michael is attracted to her. Guillaume Canet is a delight, and the most versatile of the lot. Any woman in her senses will fall in love with him.
The music is delicate, and you barely notice it. It does what it has to - highlight the ambience. The movie is shot in shades of greys and other dull colours, thus saving it from becoming a chick flick (it is quite the opposite of one, actually). Titillation and irrelevant dialogues have been done away with.
An adult drama, Last Night is not a date movie. It raises questions, and makes you reflect on the relationships in your life, too. The movie does not preach, and its depiction of real situations could have made it a great movie, if only the character of Michael was handled well. And do not be surprised if the movie remains in your head for a while.