Sunday, May 8, 2011

Movie with Abe: Last Night

Last Night
Directed by Massy Tadjedin
Released May 6, 2011

One fateful night is a subject oft-explored in films. A last night is a last night for many reasons – it’s the last opportunity to do something that might never come up again, to take a break from the mundane, repetitive nature of daily life, to experience something completely out of the normal. These themes have been tackled in an enormous number of films in the past, and “Last Night,” one of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival Spotlights, is the latest. Sam Worthington and Keira Knightley star as a husband and wife both tempted at the same time by the allure of trying something new, exciting, and different.

Knightley is no stranger to playing a lovelorn woman fated not to be with the right man (see “Atonement” for a prime example). Worthington, on the other hand, has burst onto the screen in loud action epics such as “Avatar” and “Terminator Salvation” and is an odd choice to play a romantic lead. Knightley and Worthington do nonetheless make a believable couple suffering from real problems, even if their characters and performances don’t display too much originality or personality. Their respective temptations, Guillaume Canet and Eva Mendes, are appropriate attractions and manage to seduce without even saying much of anything at all. The threat of unfaithfulness is real, yet there’s something about the film that doesn’t demand attention from its audience.

A last night should be plagued by feelings of urgency, and this film doesn’t feel as if it’s in a rush to get anywhere at all. Perhaps it’s because it stretches out the night – in addition to starting the action well before that night – into what feels like an eternity, consistently delivering more and more chances for both partners to be unfaithful to each other. Michael (Worthington) is tempted by a beautiful co-worker on a business trip, while Joanna (Knightley) happens to run into an old friend visiting his old stomping ground. The film plays out much like the pull of adultery, where the idea of spending a life with someone else is appealing if not fully thought through, fleeting but hardly permanent. It’s easy to get swept up by the hypnotizing, moody slowness of the film and to want not to leave, but once it’s over, there’s not much left and these characters can be easily and almost immediately forgotten.


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