A blog about general entertainment, fashion, and movies. And some random stuff too.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Movie Review: Last Night

I was so excited to see that this movie was on pay per view. It's coming to the Dallas Angelika in 2 weeks, but I just couldn't wait. I had to watch it as soon as I had a spare moment, which just happened to be tonight. I have been waiting to see this movie for about a year and a half. The release was delayed a few times because of the problems Miramax was having, but thankfully, it finally made its way to me! Keira in a modern time period? I hardly knew what to do with myself! Unfortunately, I am unable to write a review about a Keira movie without spoilers.

This movie begins at a fast pace, showing the dynamics of characters and background of couple. Immediately you can see the chemistry between the two leads and how comfortable they are in their relationship. They've been together for a while, even though they are still newlyweds (married for 3 years). Keira (Joanna) was completely lovable and genuine in her role, and surprisingly, Sam Worthington (Michael) was even tolerable. (This is a big deal because I have pretty much despised him in everything else I've ever seen him in.)

Eva Mendez's Laura is hard to connect with because she is presented in a way that makes you dislike her on principle, but eventually I did end up feeling for her. The only character I never really connected with was Guillaume Canet's Alex. It's hard to say why, but it could have had to do with the fact that the whole time I kept expecting him to speak with an Irish accent but he was most certainly French. It never ceased to throw me off, and that's just my own stupidity. But also, I found his character to be the only one who never became more self-aware nor did I feel that his intentions were ever anything but selfish.

The story takes place as a side by side as Joanna's husband goes on a business trip. The actions of one spouse mirror the actions of the other, both in similar situations, just in different parts of the country. (The film cleverly does a few camera tricks with mirrors to drive home this motif.) Both spouses deal with equal temptations at the same time. Neither are really the bad (or should I say worse) guy because they are both doing things that they know are wrong or shady, both feeling guilty, and having to decided moment by moment what to do in their own specific temptation. When asked by Laura if he is happy in his marriage, Michael replies, "You can be happy and still be tempted."

The stance this film takes on cheating is that a person can't always be blamed for being attracted to another or having feelings for another. The true betrayal is subjecting your loved-one to the knowledge or the image of your desires for another. Joanna mentions a few times that Michael should have "spared" her from seeing his attraction to Laura. She wasn't upset that he was attracted to her, she was just mad that he didn't try to hide it better. She retorts, "I would've spared you." This is a kindness to be dealt your partner, in her eyes. Later, even Laura mentions the things she could never get our of her mind, when she was cheated on, were pictures she saw on a computer. Not the infidelity itself. "I could have done without the visuals." The images of cheating are more hurtful than the actions. If you have to see it, it's more of a betrayal, in this story.

As well as speaking with candor like this, the two main characters were also very self aware. They know themselves well enough to verbalize things many others wouldn't be able to. Joanna is very honest with Alex when he begins to ask about why they never have worked out. She says, "I don't know that this would be what it is on its own." She loves Alex because she idealizes him and she likes it better that way. What's rare here is she knows that's why she loves him. She won't allow more to happen because he'll become too real and the ideal will end. For a person to step out of their own head and admit this to themselves is very rare. This made her such an interesting character.

The entire movie is building up to the part where both our lovers make a decision about what to do in their temptation, creating a turning point on either front. The voice overs from one scene laid across the others' bring the actions together, even though they are geographically far apart. It links them seamlessly and makes them feel like they are happening in the same room. It's very affective and cleverly done.

In the end, the degree of betrayal on either side will have to be judged by each individual viewer. Michael has a physical affair, Joanna has an emotional affair. Which is worse? No matter what you decide, I think the film is really asking this: Is it better to know or not know when you have been betrayed in a relationship? Is it selfish to admit to it, subjecting your lover to this horrible news to clear your own conscience, or is it noble, being honest to try to work it out? And in all that goes into a marriage, how would you define betrayal?


  1. Sounds intriguing enough. I feel like it'll be one of those movies that leaves me frustrated, but I guess that's not really a bad thing if it's done well

  2. Spoilers follow! I liked it a lot, especially the placement of the camera, the use of the widescreen (characters packed into corners of the screen when they are feeling cornered in life), and the editing (in the last scene, there's a insert of Michael seeing Joanna's discarded high heels, so he knows that the night before there's probably more than she's telling him than just walking the dog). It's really absorbing, though Alex, as you say, is the least developed of the four main characters.

    I agree it is about what people reveal about their feelings and what they spare others, but I think it is also about when adultery happens, whether at the moment of physical intimacy or the moment of emotional intimacy, and how men and women may respond differently to those moments. I think Joanna senses that even without physical intimacy with Alex, her emotional intimacy with him over the night before may have caused her feelings to shift somewhat. For women, the emotional intimacy is what comes first and can compromise a married person. But Michael, who has twice had sex with Laura the night before, evidently feels that this physical intimacy is somehow less significant because he can truthfully say the morning after that he still loves his wife Joanna (and tell her so). The man can have physical intimacy but not necessarily experience the shift of affection that Joanna senses from doing far less. So the questions of honesty with each other rise up at the end, and its more complicated and complex because the two of them seem to have different feelings about the level of their wrongness. Maybe if I saw it a second time, I would connect with different things. But that's what stood out from seeing it just now. I liked its ambiguity. I think that in the last scene the movie is offering up both Michael and Joanna as being guilty of betrayal but showing that she, who's done less, sees it more clearly than he, who's done more.

  3. "The man can have physical intimacy but not necessarily experience the shift of affection that Joanna senses from doing far less. "

    YES YES! This is exactly what I was thinking, also! I just didn't know how to work it in and verbalize it. Totally agree!

    And SO glad you watched it! Even more glad you enjoyed it! :)

  4. I'll have to check this out when it comes out near me. Sounds very interesting. How were the performances?

  5. Awesome review. I agree with you on all accounts about how the characters. I really loved Keira's performance. It may actually be one of my top five favorites of hers. And I also agree that Sam Worthington was better in this role than in any other role I have seen him in. I also loved how self-aware the characters were, with the exception of Alex. I think you and I both did not like him much, but that is due to us both having high standards for Keira.

  6. Yeah the performances were SO wonderful. Especially Keira. It may be one of her best of her career. It's one of the first times we get to see her in just a regular role and her performance is so subtle and genuine. I adored it. WANT TO WATCH IT AGAIN.

  7. Random trivia I just discovered: Guillaume Canet is Marion Cotillard's husband. Damn those Frenchmen always dashing my dreams.

  8. One of the most passionate moments caught on film....All I can say is WOW! Kiera Knightly was so compelling and her two men.....Precious, intimate moments caught...Breath-taking for sure

  9. Excellent review... made me think. Loved the soundtrack too.