There are echoes of Adrian Lyne’s Unfaithful (2002) and Mike Nichols’s Closer (2004) in first-time director Massy Tadjedin’s Last Night, a good-looking, tightly-scripted and ever-so-slightly superficial drama about a married couple on the brink of infidelity.
Keira Knightley plays Joanna, a young writer – of fashion articles rather than the literary fiction she’d prefer to be publishing – who lives in a stylish apartment in downtown Manhattan. She’s been married for three years to Michael (Sam Worthington), a solid chap who works in real estate.
One evening, the pair of them go to a cocktail party where Joanna notices an attractive single woman (Eva Mendes) being a touch too friendly to Michael. It turns out she’s called Laura and is a colleague of his. When the couple returns home, Joanna accuses him of wanting to sleep with her.
It’s a charge he denies, convincingly, too, though the following night, after he travels with her to meet clients in Philadelphia, things get more tricky. At the same time, Joanna is going out to dinner with Alex (Guillaume Canet), a French old flame of hers who happens to be in town.
The majority of the action takes place over that one long night, as the married couple haver, change minds, shillyshally. The film tries to be a tease, a will-they-or-won’t-they suspense.
But if you think there’s too little drama, or that it’s all too schematic, it still functions as property porn, a fantasia of fine furnishings.
Knightley is surprisingly effective and out-performs Worthington, who resembles a younger Simon Cowell and has the magnetism of a shirt packet. With his French accent and his crinkly, smiling eyes, Canet’s Alex is even more appealing than Olivier Martinez was in Unfaithful.
Long-time Darren Aronofksy collaborator Clint Mansell contributes a plangent score, and Peter Deming’s photography is by turns atmospheric and as lonesome as tear-stained cheeks. Last Night is a modest chamber piece that resonates longer than you might imagine.