The Three Year Itch
I had fears about watching "Last Night" because whilst I read a write up which focussed on the story of a married couple dealing with thoughts of infidelity I had a feeling that it would be self indulgent and pretentious. Well there is a touch of pretentious about this movie with characters that do not feel real and neither do the perfect settings but it is still highly watchable. And the reason is because whilst feeling false the characters are likeable, they are nicely acted in an easy going manner which makes them less self obsessed than I was expecting.
Michael (Sam Worthington) and Joanna (Keira Knightley - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) have been married for 3 years and during a works party Joanna notices that Michael and attractive colleague Laura (Eva Mendes - We Own the Night) getting on very well leading to her to suggest to Michael that something is going on between them. With Michael due away on business the next day Joanna has second thoughts and feels that maybe she over reacted as he says that there is nothing going on. But whilst away on business the opportunity arises for Michael to be unfaithful as Laura makes her interests very clear. But Joanna has her own temptation as former boyfriend Alex (Guillaume Canet - Joyeux Noel) bumps into her and they end up going out for drinks.
You could easily sum up "Last Night" by saying it is the three year itch because what we have is the story of whether Michael and Joanna will be unfaithful. But this isn't some drama about sex and covering up but about the characters and how they react in their situations most noticeably Joanna who finds her feelings for Alex returning. It is nicely done as we follow both stories over the course of roughly 24 hours as Joanna has the fun with Alex which is lacking from her relationship with Michael whilst Michael unable to get in touch with Joanna starts to wonder what is going on which leads him to being more receptive to Laura's advances.
What this means is that "Last Night" is all about the characters and in truth whilst we have Michael, Laura and Alex it is really all about Joanna and her 24 hours. It is interesting to watch how she prepares herself for drinks with Alex, looking to dress sexy and look nice but also with a touch of reserve as she immediately has to deal with the thoughts of infidelity. And this continues through out the night as she finds Alex giving her the support and fun which is so lacking in her marriage. Yet we also get interesting interjections from Alex's friend Truman who can see what is happening and what will happen if they allow things to go to far.
Now the thing about all this is is that "Last Night" is an artsy looking movie, the locations, characters and some of the dialogue is seriously pretentious. Yet the characters themselves are not self obsessed and react to each other rather than just being about themself. It makes a huge difference because for all this aspect of whether they will cheat or not you take an interest in what they do and how they feel. In fact you warm to Joanna as she enjoys herself in the company of Alex and half will her to see that maybe he is the one she should be with.
What this also means is that whilst there are solid performances from Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet it is Keira Knightley who makes the movie work. Knightley does a wonderful job of bringing Joanna to life and the conflict of romantic temptations as well as doubts over Michael's fidelity. But at the same time it has to be said that director Massy Tadjedin seems to be captivated by Knightley's looks and there are a few too many indulgent close ups of Knightley's face making it feel at times like a cosmetics advert.
What this all boils down to is that "Last Night" was a much better movie than I expected and it is down to the characters and in particular Keira Knightley's performance as Joanna. it is at times pretentious but it is not as self obsessed as some similar character based dramas.