Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Last Night ***


Director: Massy Tadjedin
Cast: Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet
Stephanie Romanov, Daniel Eric Gold

When did Keira Knightley become such a fascinating actress? Her performance in Last Night sneaks up on you in completely unexpected ways, proving that she's become one to watch. In the film she plays Joanna Reed, a modestly successful, but insecure writer married to real estate agent Michael (Worthington). Minutes into the running time the young couple arrive at a party where Joanna meets Michael's new coworker, the voluptuous Laura (Mendes), she watches her husband and this woman together and becomes convinced that they are having an affair.
Back home they engage in a discussion where she tries to squeeze the truth out of her husband, however she wants to hear the truth she thinks is real.
Massy Tadjedin's Last Night then slowly begins to show its true colors, it's not a standard drama in how it follows a chronological order, instead it's more of an exploration of what shapes our lives as adults and an oneiric study of what exactly constitutes love after marriage.
Some scenes are insterspersed with other scenes to highlight specific passages or to make us doubt what we are watching. This happens mostly in latter scenes where Joanna goes out with former lover Alex (Canet) while her husband is away on a business trip with Laura.
Director Tadjedin may not always be subtle, in fact some of these bits are enough to make your eyes roll as we can tell that she does indeed like some characters more than others and there are some stories she wished she'd pursued more.
Why then does she seem to punish some of the characters by condemning them to lives they obviously do not want? The truth is that the director faces these truths as absolute and wonders why have we created the need to adjust ourselves to the unwanted?
Last Night goes beyond being a Closer redux about how adults in romantic relationships hurt the hell out of each other and turns into a clever questioning of the power of love. Notice how she quietly reveals her interest in discovering whether two loves can live within the same heart. It's fortunate for the audience that she gives Knightley a real chance to show her chops and it's her character that haunts us the most after the movie ends (the last two minutes are a thing of real beauty).
To be fair though, everyone in the cast is superb, Worthington tries to imprint his character with a bit of mystery and turns out delivering a performance of troubled feelings, Canet has to do little more than smile to make us woo and wish we could leave our entire lives for him and surprisingly Mendes turns in some stunning, affecting work as the femme fatale who might not be one at all.
Last Night is a delightful reminder that movies about adults don't need to have screenplay gimmicks in order to catch our attention, this film, like having too much wine leaves you lingering on a cloud of fuzzy guilt and craving for more the following night.

3 comments:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Your review is good (as is Dark Eye Socket's on it) but I still can't relinquish my issues. I get how it's trying to do something smarter; and I remember reading the script a year ago and being really interested and hopeful but something in the execution just doesn't work as well for me. It's little things like direction that seems over-deliberate and an appalling lack of subtlety for a story that seems to demand it. For me only Guillaume Canet leaves unscathed.

Candice Frederick said...

i'm so glad you loved this movie. i adore it and it's flying so far under the radar! i didn't know kiera was good before this either (except the little bit of acting she did in never let me go)! i was blown away. thought the whole cast was great, and the writing and direction were both superb,

Lucas Dantas said...

ohh keira in a contemporary!! great!