Passion runs dry in this handsomely mounted but curiously inert romantic drama from first-time director Massy Tadjedin.
Passion runs dry in this handsomely mounted but curiously inert romantic drama from first-time director Massy Tadjedin. Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington star as Joanna and Michael, an affluent married couple who live in an enormous Manhattan loft. He's a straight-up real estate man, she a doe-eyed writer prone to bouts of insecurity. At a glamorous (albeit tedious-looking) party, she meets his alluring colleague Laura (Eva Mendes) and immediately suspects foul play.
The next morning he heads off on a business trip with... go on, guess. Meanwhile she pops out for coffee and, as fate would have it, is reunited with an estranged lover, suave Parisian Alex (Guillame Canet). The stage is thus set for a moody, neon-lit exploration of temptation, guilt and sexual morality.
Though its opening scenes superficially resemble Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, Last Night is closer in tone and structure to a Woody Allen drama, both in its ensemble of naval-gazing characters and its self-consciously schematic screenplay. Tadjedin has clearly set her sights high, and it's testament to her controlled direction that the film avoids descending into melodrama.
It's also worth stressing that Knightley, who has struggled with romantic roles in the past, turns in one of her better performances here. She and Canet make for a beguiling couple, their scenes together adding a dose of warmth and humour to proceedings.
But with the characters all so thinly sketched, the stakes never feel particularly high. It doesn't help that Worthington's Michael is an earnest, one-note bore, and that to the impartial observer, Joanna's quandary seems like a no-brainer.
The ending is enjoyably sly, rewarding careful viewers by referencing a throwaway remark from the start of the film. But in its ambiguity it feels like a bit of a cop out. As Joanna chokes back tears in a climactic scene, she proclaims, "There's just so much going on, isn't there?". It's a line that resonates for all the wrong reasons; Last Night's fatal flaw is that there isn't much going on at all.
Suspiciously little fanfare given the caliber of its cast.
Slips down easily enough thanks to Knightley and Canet's onscreen spark.
Leaves you to fill in the gaps, but you won't care enough to bother.