Emotional infidelity vs. the old-fashioned, physical type: Which is more devastating to a relationship?
That's just one of the issues brought up in Last Night, a movie about a married couple at a crossroads in their union.
Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington star as Joanna and Michael, a couple whose bond is about to be sorely tested. At a party, Joanna sees Michael talking to his beautiful co-worker, Laura (Eva Mendes) and immediately feels threatened. Joanna and Michael fight on the way home, but he assures her no office romance has ever happened.
As Michael and Laura are about to go to Philadelphia together on a business trip, Joanna is only partly reassured.
After Michael leaves town, Joanna runs into an old boyfriend, Alex (Guillaume Canet, Tell No One) and it's obvious from her reaction to seeing him that he owns a piece of her heart. They meet for dinner. With Michael out of town on business, Joanna is foot-loose and fancy free.
And Michael, meanwhile, is in Philadelphia exploring just what his feelings for Laura really are.
Last Night moves back and forth between Joanna and her old flame in New York, and Michael and his new flirtation in Philadelphia. How Joanna and Michael each respond to the temptations they encounter is the basic structure of the story, but there are much more interesting things going on in the corners of the narrative. Through her characters, writer/director Massey Tadjedin explores the different things men and women take from relationships. She looks at jealousy, loyalty, competitiveness, communication and emotional secrets; she shows how people operate within and without their relationships. Joanna, for example, is a different person around Alex than she is around Michael, and it's disconcerting to watch.
Last Night is a bit stilted in some ways, but the performances will keep you watching. Knightley is superb, particularly in conveying the interior life of her character, and Mendes manages to remain sympathetic despite her seductress role. The movie ends without any easy answers. Nobody seems particularly happy.
Last Night is quiet and it moves slowly. It's also dense with conversation, so it won't appeal to everyone, but it's a worthwhile (albeit depressing) relationship drama. The movie may be most valuable for what it points out about the differences between men and women in three little areas of life: everything they think, everything they say and everything they do.