From its long delay in getting here, you’d expect the 2009 Keira Knightley romantic drama, Last Night, to be a disaster, but not at all. It’s merely small and slight, the kind of blithe little relationship film that feels more European than American.
The setup is stiffly orchestrated: Knightly and Sam Worthington play Joanna and Michael, a married couple who live in a fabulous downtown New York apartment. They have a jealous argument after a party when Joanna notices Michael paying too much attention to a colleague, Laura, played by Eva Mendes.
And the next day, while Michael is on a business trip with Laura, Joanna’s handsome French ex, Alex (Guillaume Cantet) arrives in town. Through that day and night – which play out more fluidly than the forced premise – everyone flirts until Joanna and Michael must decide whether to cheat.
The two sides of this story are imperfectly matched. It must be more than an accident of casting – it should be more – that Michael and Laura seem the better match. As Worthington and Mendes play them, both are drippy and earnest. Their scenes are as starchy and earnest as they are, even though the post-business-meeting late-night drink and the drift toward something more than work friends have the uneasy feel of reality.
Glamorously matched Joanna and Alex, on the other hand, hardly seem tethered to reality at all. With her beautiful smile and his handsome face, they drift through a gorgeously filmed New York night that includes drinks at SoHo House, dinner with Alex’s bluntly honest friend (Griffin Dunne) and a madcap scene in which they’re locked out of an apartment and end up with a big dog in a taxi. It’s ephemeral and artificial and wildly appealing – I’d have been on the next plane to Paris with that guy.
Writer/director Massy Tadjedin was probably aiming for something weightier, something that had the ballast of a real discussion about fidelity. But you take your movie pleasures where you find them, and Last Night is an enjoyable bauble of a film.
It premieres tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, but is already on Tribeca’s VOD and opens on May 6th.