Jacob Latimore, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett star in director Kasi Lemmons' seasonal drama.
On Film4: 17 Dec 11:00AM
Will they? Won't they? A cautionary tale of modern love and betrayal, starring Keira Knightley, Guillaume Canet and Eva Mendes
It would be easy, not to mention enjoyable, to completely savage this film. Featuring an impossibly beautiful cast and centring on their heartrending romantic dilemmas (who to sleep with? Keira Knightley or Eva Mendes? Sam Worthington or Guillaume Canet? How cruel life is, etc, etc), Last Night initially plays like Closer-lite - given that here none of the characters have to do anything unthinkably grubby to make a living like work as a stripper, and it's entirely devoid of the poisonous insults (no one tells Keira Knightlely to "fuck off and die you fucked up old slag", for instance) which made the latter film so memorable.
Knightley, in the most socially irresponsible depiction of the life of a freelance journalist since Carrie Bradshaw sat idly caressing her MacBook, spends the early portion of the film elegantly lounging in the vast Manhattan loft she shares with her husband Michael (Worthington). She moans a lot about (not) writing her latest novel and even more about her suspicion that Michael has a crush on his stunning colleague Laura (Eva Mendes). Er, of course he does! It gets better. Knightley reigns in her infamous pouting, picks up her 't's following an ill-advised approximation of London grit, and when her ex-flame Alex (Canet) arrives in New York unexpectedly, turns in a nuanced performance which serves as a reminder of why she's considered one of the most impressive actors of her generation. While Michael is dispatched on a business trip battling temptation with Laura, a very watchable Knightley and Canet explore the undimmed spark between them, and both pairs contemplate the tantalisingly possibility of infidelity.
There are obvious indulgences in screenwriter and first-time director Massy Tadjedin's script (pronouncements including "tell me something that counts", "it's natural to crave a newness" and "doubts will ruin your work" score highly on the teeth-grinding front). That said, her questioning of the concept of monogamy and its place in modern society is universally relevant, and this is an ambitious examination of it, if you're prepared to accept the subject as worthy of Hollywood analysis. In fact, Last Night emerges as the subtler, braver film than Closer, given that it doesn't rely on shocking its audience with hysterical bitterness and dramatically over-engineered crises, but aims for a romantic universe most people will find recognisable - if only featuring much better teeth, hair and bone structure.
For those who don't fall asleep on the sofa during what must be the most drawn-out instance of foreplay in cinema history, Last Night develops into a provocative (if slightly anti-climactic) tryst.
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