What Did You Do Last Night?

What Did You Do Last Night?

Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Optimum Releasing 

Release date: June 3rd, 2011
Certificate (UK): 12A
Running time: 93 minutes

Writer/Director: Massy Tedjedin
Producer: Buddy Enright

Composer: Clint Mansell

Cast: Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet, Griffin Dunne, Stephanie Romanov

Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington are travelling by taxi, looking pensive and beautiful, being driven through a New York night. Over the course of two nights, their marriage will be put to the test, pitching love against lies, lusts and against trust, and examining what it means to be married to one another and what happens when their hearts and their heads are elsewhere.

During the first, there is a party at Michael’s work. It’s all schmoozing and wine and introductions, until Joanna sees Michael chatting on the balcony with his attractive colleague Laura (Eva Mendes).

Last Night

Knightley’s jealous outburst at this point is very good; she and Worthington have believable anti-chemistry. The more he protests, the more she goads; he reluctantly confesses to finding Laura attractive, only causing Joanna to blow up further. He desperately tries to make it up to her, but she distances him, and his puppy dog eyes verge on heartbreaking. Even though Michael is sort of in the wrong, we side with him because Joanna is kind of a bitch.

The next morning, Michael leaves to go to Philadelphia on business, accompanied by Laura and other unimportant colleagues. And so begins a slow burning study of a relationship in trouble, exploring what it means to be unfaithful, and the nuances between physical and emotional intimacy.

Will Michael give in to his attraction, or stay faithful to his wife, as he maintains that he will?

Last Night

A spanner is thrown into the works back in New York too; whilst out buying a coffee, Joanna meets dishy French ex-boyfriend Alex on the street. He’s to leave town the next morning, giving them less than 24 hours together. That’s very convenient, and a bit predictable. Maybe a curve ball? No, no, Last Night shies away at that, and what happens is exactly what you think might happen.

After their night apart, Joanna and Michael must face up to what their relationship means to them, and the consequences of any actions, or indeed inactions.

What constitutes being unfaithful? Is it worse that Michael comes rushing home early from Philly, or that Joanna isn’t happy to see him? Who is ‘we’ indeed?

Last Night

We’re left with no definitive conclusion, although you can kind of guess where the relationship will lead. The sharp intake of breath and the cut to black is just another beginning of another conversation…

Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with any of the characters. They don’t illicit sympathy from me, so I didn’t really care about their predicament. The story wasn’t particularly involving, so the outcome was simply that. It’s the kind of film after which you’d sit down and have a look at your own relationship and your roles in it. The themes are so universal that there’s a lot to identify with; who doesn’t awkwardly keep in touch with an ex a bit too much? Who doesn’t insist that they’re fine whilst giving the cold shoulder and crying? Who hasn’t lusted after a colleague they spend more time with than their actual girlfriend?

Maybe this is part of what Tedjedin is going for, but I think the movie as an entity could have benefited more from having a focal point to really care about, or a character to root for.

Last Night

My favourite was Alex, and for him to be happy, the impossible would have to happen and you just know that it wouldn’t work out in the end. There were no winners, and this made me feel a bit sad. Not for the film, but for real life.

I didn’t feel the chemistry between Worthington and Mendes. Mendes is of course attractive, but Laura doesn’t come off as being that smart or funny or engaging, and other than being Michael’s object of lust, is kind of superfluous. Her insights into relationships and fidelity aren’t profound. You can love someone and be physically attracted to someone else. Well, yeah. But I come from a world where people read Dan Savage, so tell me something new.

Last Night

Shot on location in New York, there is a lot of love; long shots of Knightley’s silhouette in heels across the street, wide angles of the skyline at night, wide sidewalks seen from the roof.

The score, by Cliff Mansell, heavily piano-led, is suspenseful and totally appropriate.

There are many shots of hands, with wedding rings specifically. It became distracting and was a little heavy handed, almost preaching about the sanctity of monogamous heterosexual marriage. Especially one between two white, middle-class, beautiful people who live in Manhattan.

Over all, it’s a safe film, it doesn’t push boundaries and no one will be shocked by the ending. It’s thought provoking with beautiful shots, and for what it does, it does well, but I can’t quite get over its genericness.

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