“Last Night” spends a lot of time
building up the tension….is it gonna happen or not…..finally offers some
incomplete resolution, then invites the viewer to finish the story.
Some viewers will think that’s charming, and will engender lots of
dialogue, other viewers will feel that it’s just plain incomplete.
Joanna Reed (Keira Knightley) is a
slender, attractive young married woman living in
New York City
, married for three years to Michael (Sam Worthington), and together they
have a nice apartment, stylish friends, and meaningful work.
What could go wrong?
Joanna notices at a party for
Michael’s work friends that a certain lovely colleague of his, Laura (Eva
Mendes) seems to act a little too interested.
Is this just shallow jealousy or did she pick up some real vibes?
When she tries to talk to him about it later, he accuses her of
picking a fight over nothing. The
truth is, of course, that her intuition is right.
There is, actually, some sexual tension between Michael and Laura.
They just haven’t expressed it to each other, but they do enjoy
playing with fire and seeing the sparks fly between them.
They take off on a business trip together the next morning, and
although other colleagues are present, Joanna still feels uneasy.
And, it turns out, for good reason.
After Michael leaves the next morning,
still somewhat indignant, Joanna happens to run into an old flame, Alex (Guillame
Canet), who in turn prevails on her to come to dinner with him and some
friends, and it’s obvious to the friends that there’s some unfinished
business here, and they’re watching some relational electricity, as well.
The film then alternates between
Joanna’s evening and Michael’s, both in different cities, both in the
company of people to whom they are not married, both getting increasingly
sloshed, and both gradually letting down their guard.
In a way, it’s like a long, slow seduction, but there’s no
striptease. No nudity.
It’s all in the furtive glance, the longing in the eyes, the
embarrassed laugh, and the emotional intimacy of talking about attraction
with someone that you’re obviously attracted to.
Knightley, the veteran of period
pieces and fantasy films, hasn’t done too many of these “natural”
roles, but she’s a natural.
’s range diminishes greatly when he plays painfully indecisive; it comes
out looking like he has stomach gas. The
sensuous Mendes is well-suited for the role of subtle seductress, we’re
just not sure about the believability of the business meetings.
Canet seems mostly either bemused or bewildered, and his dinner
friends are kind of a meaningless distraction.
But Knightley is the one we care about, because we sense the depth of
her ambivalence, and the complexity of jealousy morphing into flirtation,
which begins innocently, but then…..where can it even go from there?
“Last Night” would be good
discussion material for a gathering of young married couples who want to
talk about the murky dynamics of relating to persons of the opposite gender
other than your spouse. Then again,
it’s one thing to decide what you’d do in theory, and another to
actually be face-to-face with the incarnation of your greatest temptation.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor,
United Presbyterian Church,