Last Night might not have hit the homerun I was looking for, the trailers at least did catch my eye and I think there certainly are some good points to the film and unlike many other generic and often overly dramatic rom-dramas, this one has stuck with me hours after watching.
Genre(s): Drama, Romance
Miramax-Echo Bridge | R – 93 min. – $29.99 | September 6, 2011
Directed by: Massy Tadjedin
Writer(s): Massy Tadjedin (written by)
Cast: Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet
Theatrical Release Date: May 6, 2011 (limited)
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Stereo)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 18.6 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
In writer/director Massy Tadjedin’s character drama, Last Night, we follow four people over the course of a night where temptations arise and each looks inward about their feelings and their relationships:
Michael (SAM WORTHINGTON) and Joanna (KEIRA KNIGHTLEY) live in New York City and have been married for 3 years. We don’t get a sense of why they’re a happy couple since we only see them fighting and then making up but going with that, the initial fight comes when after attending a party thrown by Michael’s employer, Joanna sees him talking with a new associate, Laura (EVA MENDES) who can’t seem to keep her hands off of him. They fight over whether or not he finds her attractive – and whether Laura and he had an affair while on an L.A. business trip. He denies any infidelity but admits finally – to end the argument – that Laura is attractive and Joanna responds by sleeping on the couch. But in the middle of the night, they make up over some early morning breakfast before he’s to leave on a business trip to Philadelphia (with Laura and another company associate).
After Michael leaves on the train north, we see Joanna do a variety of things around the apartment including her freelance fashion writing before going out for some coffee and running into old flame, Alex (GUILLAUME CANET) who is a writer in town for a couple of days. The two quickly catch up with a bit of flirtation which leads to an invitation for drinks later that day to which she cheerfully accepts. Later that night the two meet up for drinks and then a dinner with a couple of Alex’s friends. Chatter about the old days turns to relationships to something more serious as they discuss where they stand with each other.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, after a business meeting, Michael and Laura decide to have late night drinks going from a standard bar establishment, to higher class one and finally to her room where she grabs a few mini bottles from the room fridge where they go to the pool and take a swim. In between their alcohol binge, the pair discusses life and, as with the conversation between Joanna and Alex, the talk turns to Michael’s marriage. At first Michael is able to resist Laura’s advances stopping at only a kiss but things could get more complicated as the night wears on.
The film’s main strength isn’t the screenplay or plot since we know from the beginning what’s going to happen and the path these characters are on, but instead the reason the movie is any good is thanks in large part to the cast and, in particular, Keira Knightley and Guillaume Canet. Their two stories make up the rich aspect of the story as their characters explore their past, present and, to a lesser extent, future while the Worthington/Mendes story is relegated more toward the physical realm than anything emotional. This isn’t to say those two actors don’t deliver solid performances, in fact a couple of their scenes are finely acted but the highlight is the on-screen chemistry we see between Knightley and Canet. In fact, I’d say a feature length film could be made about the Joanna/Alex relationship leaving the other couple to the sidelines as it serves more like a vignette.
In terms of the acting, I know plenty rag on Sam Worthington and while indeed he’s not an amazing actor and could be considered overrated given how much Hollywood has pushed him in a variety of high profile projects, I think here he’s at least passable once you get past the thick English accent. Similarly, Eva Mendes’ performance is decent enough especially since her character doesn’t go beyond being the thoughtful temptress, thankfully far away from her role in the awful Women ensemble comedy/drama.
But the real focus here is on Keira Knightley and, to a lesser extent yet still pretty good, Guillaume Canet. Knightley has always had this charm about her even when he looked out of her element (see Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End in particular), but when she hits the mark, she really hits it as she had in Pride and Prejudice and, in a smaller role, Never Let Me Go. That being said, I don’t want to overstate the performance as something that is award-worthy but if there’s a reason to see this picture it’s for her.
Last Night is a movie I didn’t particularly enjoy not so much for what the characters do but that between the slow pacing and long drawn out dialogue shots, it takes some time to really grasp. As somebody who has Lost in Translation quite high on my list, I can certainly understand how a movie like this might strike a chord. Not only does the film remind me somewhat of LiT, but there’s a bigger comparison with the all-star drama, Closer, an overwrought, though still tolerable romantic drama that covers much of the same ground albeit much obvious and conclusive.
As I stated in the opening, the film was written, produced and directed by Massy Tadjedin in her feature directorial debut. She also was the writer behind 2005’s The Jacket with Adrien Brody and Knightley, a film I found interesting but ultimately unsatisfying by the end. While the script for Last Night wasn’t amazing, some of the dialogue however sounded right and added to the realism and chemistry between the characters even when our main couple was underdeveloped (as I said, seeing them only on a down slope of their relationship).
In the end, Last Night might not have hit the homerun I was looking for, the trailers at least did catch my eye however due to its very limited theatrical run I had to wait for the home video market, but I think there certainly are some good points to the film and unlike many other generic and often overly dramatic rom-dramas, this one has stuck with me hours after watching. So despite my relatively low rating, I still say give this one a rental.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
Unfortunately Echo Bridge/Miramax did not offer any features for this release, although I doubt a throwaway EPK featurette would be necessary…
VIDEO – 3.0/5
Last Night cheats and seduces its way onto Blu-ray in its original 2.35 aspect ratio presentation and 1080p high-def transfer. Going in, I was confident this would not be a pretty looking picture yet I still expected it to be better than what we got. The biggest issue is that most of the time the video just looks soft. The detail level isn’t there for some of the wider shots and it doesn’t look overly sharp unless you get into the close-ups.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
Despite what the back cover states, this indeed does contain a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track, along with the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 mixes. The track itself isn’t anything special but I suppose it gets the job done given the film is 98.5% dialogue with the remaining 1.5% reserved for the score, which allows the track to show some depth. The center channel gets the most use for the dialogue as the front and rear speakers don’t offer a whole lot save for maybe minor ambient noises and idle chatter.
OVERALL – 2.25/5
Last Night might not have hit the homerun I was looking for, the trailers at least did catch my eye and I think there certainly are some good points to the film and unlike many other generic and often overly dramatic rom-dramas, this one has stuck with me hours after watching. So despite my relatively low rating, I still say give this one a rental. The Blu-ray itself isn’t anything amazing so if you are looking to buy, given it is Echo Bridge I’m sure you’ll be able to snag it in the $10 range if not less at which point I would recommend buying, otherwise just wait it out.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.