Though I am writing this review as part of our 50 Movie Challenge, I actually watched Last Night some months ago for no reason other than it stars Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington, two interesting and talented actors. I’m kind of a big Knightley fan and the description of this flick on Netlifx persuaded me to click the “watch now” button. As usual, Keira Knightley gives a powerful, layered performance rich in nuance and spanning the majority of the emotional spectrum. Her leading man, Sam Worthington, gives a performance that is nearly her complete opposite. He almost made the flick not work, in fact, with his entire lack of human emotion. It did work, though, for the most part, and overall, I recommend watching it.
Married couple Joanna (Knightley) and Michael (Worthington) appear to have a solid, albeit less than passionate, relationship but during a work dinner, Joanna notices that Michael’s sexy co-worker, Laura (Eva Mendes), is obviously attracted to her husband. In an insecure moment, Joanna’s jealousy flares and they argue the night before Michael leaves for a business trip with a few colleagues, one of whom is the tempting Laura. While away overnight, Joanna crosses paths with a former flame, Alex (Guillaume Canet), for whom she has lingering feelings.
Writer/director Massy Tadjedin bounces back and forth between Michael and Laura away in a hotel, openly flirting while discussing their relationships, and Joanna and Alex, who decide to have dinner and catch up. Mendes is captivating and sexy as the tempting Laura but she and Worthington have surprisingly little chemistry due, I’m sure, to Worthington’s inability to appear fully engaged. Knightley and French actor Guillaume Canet, on the other hand, have such magnetic chemistry, I spent the better part of the flick internally debating whether I wanted her cheat. I won’t remove the film’s entire claim on suspense by disclosing what happens between these four people but I will say that Tadjedin succeeds in subtly revealing the many grey areas of relationships, effectively proving that both Joanna’s and Michael’s choices are neither simple nor easy.
Last Night is a quiet, calm independent film about relationships, marriage, infidelity/fidelity and temptation. Ultimately, it poses the question of which is worse: giving in to desire without emotional attachment or rebuffing the physical while harboring un-acted upon love for another? The answer is unique to every couple, every individual. And never as black and white as one would expect.