Last Night (with Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington) – Blu-ray/DVD review
Don’t you just hate it when a bad film steals the title of a favourite? The 1998 actually-the-end-of-the-world indie classic Last Night? Amazing; watch it immediately. The 2010 only-the-end-of-the-world-for-an-incredibly-dull-middle-class-couple Last Night? Yawn.
(Massy Tadjedin, US, 2010)
As in: you’ll have forgotten all about this film by the morning. A ridiculous relationship non-drama that puts the ‘bore’ into bourgeois
Ever had that moment while watching a movie, when the spell breaks and suddenly you can sense the crew behind the camera, the director shouting “action” and the ersatz illusion of reality being enacted over and over again? Last Night is that moment amplified to feature-length: a relationship drama that seldom rings true, and just hangs there, going through the motions.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the scenario, as a married couple comes to blows when wife Joanna (Keira Knightley) gets a pang of jealousy over hubbie Michael’s (Sam Worthington) new work colleague, Laura (Eva Mendes). But very quickly, the dreaded hand of the screenwriter, clasping for profundity, plucks one hell of a coincidence out of the air. While Michael and Laura go away on a business trip, Joanna suddenly spies old flame Alex (Guillaume Canet) and agrees to go for dinner.
What follows won’t be a surprise to anybody who knows La Ronde or, more recently, Closer, as the accidental couples are thrown together and both Joanna and Michael face temptation over an evening of booze and marital doubts. What is a surprise is how little writer/director Massy Tadjedin has thought about how to refresh old clichés. Themes that are meant to be universal come across as merely over-familiar, with little insight that couldn’t be gleaned from taking a look at your friends and neighbours (or, indeed, Your Friends And Neighbors).
The biggest problem is that this would-be adult drama is stymied by the difficulty of believing that Sam Worthington and Keira Knightley would ever have got together in the first place. Perhaps that’s the point; maybe we’re meant to wonder whether blokish Worthington is far better suited to sultry, slutty Mendes, while fragile flower Knightley finds her ideal match in bookish, metrosexual Canet. That, at least, would say something provocative about infidelity sometimes being justified. Instead, Tadjedin concentrates on Worthington and Knightley’s parallel long dark nights of the soul – a fatal combination of maudlin self-reflection and actors who cannot communicate the kind of inner turmoil that might make them sympathetic. Bless ’em, they’re trying, but ultimately this is a film in which Worthington glowers and Knightley frowns, and the other actors (in particularly, Mendes) are left seriously short-changed.
The hesitant atmosphere extends to the filming, whose elegant middle-distance tracking shots feel more like an advert for an interiors company than lived-in, organic reality. It’s far, far too tasteful a brew, lacking any of the arsenic that is needed to make this anything more than another film where a well-off middle-class couple spend the running time moaning about absolutely bugger all. These people exist only in their prettified bubbles, desperately grasping for a solution that’s self-evident to everybody else. As Nicole Kidman put it at the end of Eyes Wide Shut: “there is something very important we need to do as soon as possible.” Just fuck already.