Review by Jack Foley
MASSY Tadjedin’s Last Night offers a compelling portrait of a marriage tested by the possibility of betrayal by both sides of the couple at the centre of the story.
On the one hand, Sam Worthington’s supposedly faithful Michael is tempted by Eva Mendes’s new office temptress , while on the other Keira Knightley’s suspicious Joanna also has her own work cut out resisting the amorous advances of Guillaume Canet’s charming significant other (surely France’s equivalent of Patrick Dempsey).
Over the course of one night apart, loyalty is stretched to breaking point as both Michael and Joanna make decisions that could affect the future of their life together.
Tadjedin’s film is an extremely stylish affair that rises above the stagey set-up to genuinely grip viewers with its intelligent dissection of the moral and ethical dilemmas facing each person.
It’s also driven by some excellent performances, with all four leads approaching career-best form.
Admittedly, there may be some viewers who find it hard to sympathise with a glamorous, good-looking couple who seem to have it all without the need for distraction, but in the main this is a slick affair that ought to give rise to a good many ‘what would you do’ conversations afterwards.
Tadjedin, as both writer and director, deserves much of the credit for keeping proceedings suitably simmering throughout, ensuring that the pace seldom (if ever) flags and her performers each get their moment to shine.
She also treats her audience as adults, seldom spoon-feeding them easy answers or the reasons behind certain decisions and delivering an ending that’s every bit as challenging as what’s come before.
As such, she ensures that her characters stay with you, even if you don’t agree or even like them for much of what they do.
But personal judgements aside, Tadjedin also draws great performances. Worthington finally reveals more to his make-up than the blank demeanour that often accompanies many of his CGI-driven blockbusters, displaying a quiet turmoil and an everyman quality that heightens the naturalism of his performance, while Mendes is both vampish and suitably damaged as the potential object of his affair.
Knightley, too, continues to mature nicely, clearly drawing on what she has learned from her experiences on the London stage, while Canet steals the show as the charismatic charmer whose outward confidence slowly gives rise to a sensitive and even lost soul.
The overall result is a hugely compelling film that grips from start to finish, even if it lacks the soft-centred heart that some viewers may be anticipating. It is, nevertheless, highly recommended for anyone who likes their relationship dramas to be a little challenging.
Running time: 93mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 17, 2011