Film Review: Last Night

Massy Tadjedin’s Last Night is a commendable as directorial debut. The film is visually appealing but lacks the depth that a drama of this nature should have.

Joanna and Michael Reed have been in a relationship for years, and married fairly recently. When they attend a party, Joanna notices that one of Michael’s colleagues is a very attractive woman. Joanna is jealous that Michael is about to go on a business trip with Laura, but becomes distracted when she bumps into an old flame…

Last Night offers a microcosmic view of the complexities of infidelity. Concentrating on a couple and their dalliances with others, the film provides a snapshot into their lives. The entire film takes place over the course of less than two days, aside from brief flashbacks.

Writer-director Tadjedin’s intentions seem clear from the very beginning of the film. Last Night balances on a precipice; the film is engineered to keep the audience guessing about the faithfulness of the protagonists. Tadjedin attempts to maintain a level of intrigue as to how far each partner will go, whether they will individually succumb to the advances of others. It is rather disappointing that the characters live up to stereotypes in the end. At times, it seems that the film wishes to comment on the nature of infidelity, but in the end the narrative relies on banal conventions.

Perhaps what hampers the film most is the performance of the leading lady. Keira Knightley is distractingly bad as Joanna. The actress’ delivery is poor and her mannerisms seem false. Given how pivotal her role is, Knightley’s performance takes something away from the film.

Sam Worthington’s delivery is also a little hit and miss as husband Michael. His scenes with Eva Mendes’ Laura fare a lot better. Mendes is well cast as Laura. At the beginning of the film, Joanna’s slight frame is really accentuated when she changes clothes. Laura’s curvaceous figure seems the antithesis of Joanna’s emaciated-looking body, so it is easy to see why Michael would find her attractive. Guillaume Canet offers the best performance of the film as Alex, the ex-lover of Joanna. Griffin Dunne offers good support as Truman.

The shooting style is fluid, but is overindulgent in its aesthetics. The overlaying of sound on different shots, the minor flashbacks and flash-forwards, and some of the jump-cut editing are all unnecessary tricks. The locations featured in the film are glamorous enough not to need this superficial chicanery.

With different casting, perhaps Last Night would have been a better film. Even so, there would still be some issues with the dialogue and plot. A glossy effort with all too apparent flaws.