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“Last Night” is a sex tease, but that makes it sound more exciting than it ever becomes. The tease is simply this: A fairly happily married Manhattan couple — good-looking, well off and aggressively trendy — spend a night apart in separate cities with a most attractive member of the opposite sex. Will either spouse betray the other? Unless you’re intimately acquainted with the couple, and the movie never manages that intimacy, your investment in the answer to that question is very light.
While Oscar Wilde once had a character assert that he could resist anything other than temptation, the temptations here are highly resistible — at least from a spectator’s point of view. Despite a glamorous cast, this debut film from writer-director Massy Tadjedin falls flat.
British actors Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington play the young couple. They inhabit one of those impossibly luxurious and large Manhattan flats that occasionally turn up in movies. Never mind how could they afford it; where did they find it?
One night, they attend a cocktail party for Michael’s work. Joanna takes one look at her husband’s stunning new colleague, Laura (Eva Mendes), and her mind runs riot with suspicions. Why hasn’t he ever mentioned her beauty? Weren’t they on a trip out to L.A. together?
Joanna picks a dozy of a fight over Laura when they return home. The following night Michael is at a business meeting in Philadelphia — and, of course, he’s with Laura. But, to her shock, Joanna’s old French boyfriend, Alex (Guillaume Canet), turns up in New York. The two wind up out on the town, and clearly, the flame she carries for Alex has never gone out.
Tadjedin contrives to keep her two couples in cozy situations all night with plenty of booze around to lessen everyone’s resistance. One such contrivance has Joanna suddenly remember she has to walk a friend’s dog, so they dash over to another ridiculously large apartment only to get locked out with the dog.
Griffin Dunne turns up as a friend of Alex’s who parties into the night with this couple wavering over betrayal. Unfortunately, the actor only serves to remind a viewer he once played a man who had a really wild New York night in Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours.” If that experience was a 10, this one goes only to three.
The actors give more credibility and depth to these characters than they deserve. Strangely, the two potential adultery partners come off more sympathetically than the married couple. Alex’s longing for his former lover and Laura’s loneliness are touching, while nothing really motivates the couple’s contemplation of infidelity.
So the movie talks itself to death while running in circles. About the only thing that keeps you involved is that initial question: Who will cheat?
Although the real question, is who cares?
Venue: Toronto International Film Festival
Production companies: Gaumont, Nick Wechsler Prods.
Cast: Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet, Griffin Dunne, Anson Mount, Scott Adsit
Director-screenwriter: Massy Tadjedin
Producers: Sidonie Dumas, Nick Wechsler, Massy Tadjedin
Executive producers: Buddy Enright, Christophe Riandee
Director of photography: Peter Deming
Production designer: Tim Grimes
Music: Clint Mansell
Costume designer: Ann Roth
Editor: Susan E. Morse
No rating, 92 minutes
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