It’s been a quiet year on the big screen for our Keira. Shying away from her role as Elizabeth Swan in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean motion was perhaps the wisest move of her career, opting instead for the stage in Children’s Hour and an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro ‘s Never Let Me Go.
It’s been a quiet year on the big screen for our Keira. Shying away from her role as Elizabeth Swan in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean motion was perhaps the wisest move of her career, opting instead for the stage in Children’s Hour and an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro ‘s Never Let Me Go. Now she stars as writer Joanna opposite Sam Worthington, who has tossed aside his shield and smurf blue alias in a bid to prove there’s some mind to the meat in Massy Tadjedin’s tantalising Last Night.
Knightley, who has worked with Tadjedin in 2005’s The Jacket takes a rare trip to the modern day, beginning her story arm in arm with business exec hubs Michael (Worthington.) It’s your typical contemporary city set up; large loft apartment, happy, educated, healthy couple, well Worthington anyway as Knightley is in desperate need of feeding up and having her fringe trimmed. The sort of couple you secretly hope something goes wrong for.
Cue Mendes’ Laura, Michael’s colleague and a curvy nemesis for wedded bliss. It’s a pity that Mendes is rarely seen outside the role of homewrecker and general temptress, but she excels as the path that could or could not lead Michael to smash in his vows.
After a brief insight into the couple’s glorious life Michael must leave for a business trip in Philadelphia with, not surprisingly, Laura and their team. Whilst away Joanna bumps into old Parisian flame Alex (an unnervingly charming Guillaume Canet) and meets him for dinner.
The next hour or so is visual fourplay, with each shot expertly choreographed as husband and wife play out the motions that will lead them to the inevitable crunch point and the will they won’t they dilemma.
The dialogue does address some key theoretical questions that engage you in the story; the concept of marrying too young, would you stay with a person if they were unfaithful, is there anything in fact wrong with being attracted to somebody else, even? Minor characters bring out the uncomfortably truth in the Joanna and Matt individually, and it is apparent even the most content of marriages are not entirely satisfying.
A dismal tone is conveyed then, and unfortunately both central characters are not given enough backstory to warrant a genuine reaction to. Worthington’s lines are monosyllabic and limited, Knightley pouts more than she does speak. Little is given to highlight the sort of couple that they are except that they married young. In fact it’s Canet and Mendes characters that are more fascinating to behold. What should be a couple of catalysts for the leads instead prove a complex sub level of emotions, and results in a refreshing take on cheating. Mendes is certainly the most interesting character, with a no mess approach to attempting to woe Michael and an unashamed means to telling him about her past. Canet in turn does well to gain sympathy as the shunned flame that filled the space during the couple’s brief break up.
There is an undoubted element of suspense that threads through the film, and it is this more than the couple’s chemistry that keeps you watching. The conclusion isn’t groundbreaking and falls away before any real consequence can be absorbed, but Tadjedin manages to keep the thrill of the chase up for long enough that you remain interested throughout the entire film.