Last Night: Temptation Can Lead Anywhere (2010)

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Drama, Romance

Joanna and Michael Reed have been together for a few years, but their relationship seems to be a little shakier than at first glance. One night at a work party, Joanna begins to suspect that Michael has an attraction to a new co-worker, Laura, after she realizes that he had never mentioned her arrival with the company and their work together on a prior business trip. Though the night becomes a roller coaster of emotions, the two part the next morning as Michael has another business trip in Philadelphia and Joanna plans to spend her time writing. During their time apart, temptation rises, as Michael continues to spend more time with Laura and Joanna runs into an old flame, Alex.

Starring: Keira Knightly (Joanna Reed), Sam Worthington (Michael Reed), Eva Mendes (Laura), Guillaume Canet (Alex Mann), Justine Cotsonas (Maggie), Scott Adsit (Stuart), Griffin Dunne (Truman), Anson Mount (Neal)

With this film based on character development, the cast had to be chosen with the intention of showing conflict, emotional struggle and range. Keira Knightly’s character is focused on the fidelity of her husband, which comes out through her initial jealousy shown between the interactions at his work party and travel back to their apartment. She highlights her frustrations through fairly realistic anger and avoidance. As she then explores her own contradictory feelings with Alex, Knightly is able to pull back and forth between expressing her comfort with her friend and her desire to move further in their relationship. In comparison, Sam Worthington is much more nonchalant toward the beginning but shows a slight bit more range during the continuation of the story, though he tends to not  exhibit much difference until he realizes how far he is willing to risk his marriage. Eva Mendes serves as his siren. She certainly shows her interest in him through great nonverbal cues but is uncomfortably awkward the next morning and in her contrast of the trust issues she projects and the actions she takes with their relationship. Guillaume Canet creates similar conflict for Knightly and does a good job with causing the viewer to dislike his character’s intentions.

This romance, fidelity film by Massy Tadjedin tries to highlight the issues with fidelity and how both partners can be led astray in different ways. Though the movie seems to follow gender norms in the way each character cheats on their partner, both storylines go into depth on the drama and conflict. Michael’s infidelity is a bit predictable in that Joanna eludes to the concern during their fight near the start of the film. There is an obvious physical attraction between Michael and Laura, but the two travel through an extremely controversial 48 hours. The work party sets the scene with some mutual flirting, but the business trip complicates their relationship with their continued time together after their work is completed. They directly talk about issues of fidelity and Michael talks about his love of his wife, but a combination of their physical attraction, alcohol and bad decisions leads to the progression of their infatuation and into their erotic encounter. For Joanna, he chance meeting on the street with her old friend instantly perks her up. She exhibits her interest in making a positive impression through the way she gets ready for their time together that evening and how she keeps ignoring her conscience and the feeling she should end their time together. Where Michael’s interaction is much more physical, Joanna’s cheating is strongly emotional. Her previous relationship with Alex and the reemergence of their mutual connection may not push her to the same physical cheating of her husband, but can certainly be seen as serious in regards to her emotional commitment to her marriage.

As previously mentioned, the methods of infidelity are certainly gender-focused, assuming certain characteristics of both married and single individuals. Considering the female characters, Joanna’s infidelity relates to an emotional connection with a former flame. Their relationship may have been significant, but the feelings are much less about the physical and much more about the mental commitment. For Laura, her single status and personal history labels her more as a predator of someone who is attractive from a physical and commitment standpoint. As he is a married man, she appears to be attracted to those qualities of married men. For Michael, he seems to love his wife but also acknowledges his attraction to his newer co-worker. He may deny it to Joanna but both of them certainly acknowledge their suspicions of the other and their concerns for their own issues.

Overall, the movie is certainly an interesting portrayal of infidelity on multiple levels, but the outcome is fairly predictable and the ending is a bit unfulfilling, as you expect there to be an actual confrontation regarding the previous night.

Dan’s Rating: 2.5/5

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