Last night, Keira Knightley showed up in Judge Franck Tabouring's dream. She begged him to shave his beard.
Temptation can lead anywhere…
The power of temptation and danger of adultery have a strong presence in Massy Tadjedin's Last Night, an intriguing look at a married couple flirting with the desire to become intimate with someone else. Although clearly not a film for the masses, this little indie gem boasts a few incredibly powerful performances that make up for the occasional simplicity spreading across an otherwise engaging script. Keira Knightley in particular delivers one of the most enticing performances of the year, injecting Last Night with just the right dose of sexiness it needs to stand out.
A dark tale of lust and marital complexity, Tadjedin's flick introduces us to Michael (Sam Worthington, Avatar) and Joanna (Keira Knightley, Never Let Me Go), a married New York City couple who have settled into a comfortable relationship but seem to have a tough time communicating openly. Their commitment to each other is further tested when Michael leaves the city for a business trip with a new colleague (Eva Mendes, Ghost Rider) he finds himself attracted to. Meanwhile, Joanna accidentally bumps into Alex (Guillaume Canet, Joyeux Noel), a former lover who seems pretty interested in rekindling their past romance.
Last Night kicks off with an intriguing opening scene that establishes an artsy feel and special mood the film hopes viewers will quickly embrace as they get to know Michael and Joanna. This particular scene, in which our two lead characters attend a dinner party, is intercut with shots of them riding in a taxi, appearing tense and staring into the open distance through the car windows. It's a moment that pulls you right in and sets the stage for what's to come: a slow-paced, somewhat gloomy story of a couple struggling to resist the temptation to cheat on each other.
It comes as no surprise then that the majority of the film revolves around temptation, following Michael as he flirts with his coworker Laura away from home while his wife and her ex-boyfriend Alex reminisce about their previous relationship. Sadly enough, the nature of the dialogue these four characters share does become a little monotonous after a while, which causes the plot to occasionally drag despite the film's rather short 93-minute running time. On the other hand, a few scenes boast a pleasant silence, which allows the cast to show off their talent and focus mainly on establishing believable chemistry.
In Last Night, the longer conversations aren't nearly as compelling as the nature of their relationships. Joanna and Michael's marriage remains the main point of interest throughout, and Tadjedin portrays their relationship in a rather unconventional manner. Right from the start, for instance, Michael admits to Joanna that he shares a certain attraction for Laura. At that point, the situation immediately turns into an issue of trust for Joanna, who wonders whether Michael will remain faithful to her despite his little confession. The arrival of Alex obviously messes with her head, but she attempts to fight the same temptation Michael is desperately trying to resist.
The film cuts back and forth between Michael and Laura and Joanna and Alex as they discuss their lives, talk about lust, revisit the past, and consider the consequences of caving in to advances. The relationship between Knightley and Canet easily provokes a greater interest than that between Worthington and Mendes, despite a few solid, isolated moments. One thing that works well throughout the film is Peter Deming's gorgeous cinematography, which keeps the focus on the faces of the actors and helps Tadjedin accomplish the film's attractive atmosphere.
A quick word about the acting: Mendes and Canet do a fine job trying to seduce Michael and Joanna. While Worthington manages to generate an appropriate chemistry with Knightley, it's Knightley who steals the show every single time she shows up onscreen. Her character is the most intriguing, and she also brings along the most touching performance. She's quite simply phenomenal.
The Blu-ray edition of the film carries a superb 2.35:1 non-anamorphic 1080p transfer boasting a clean image quality with neutral colors and solid vibrancy. Many scenes in the movie appear pretty dark, but grain is mostly absent. The accompanying audio track is only the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, but music, dialogue and foley are balanced fairly well. You won't find any special features here, but the set includes a digital copy and standard definition of the flick.
I won't include Last Night in my Top Ten films of the year, but as a small indie drama exploring the impact of temptation inside a strained marriage, the film addresses some interesting issues. Tadjedin's script lacks depth at times, but impeccable production values and fabulous acting performances compensate somewhat for the film's flaws. Keira Knightley fans should put this one high up on their list of movies to see. She will blow you away, and I'm not exaggerating.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
• DVD Copy
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