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Last Night, a “lush noirish” romantic thriller

ruh-roh: “The story follows a married couple, apart for a night while the husband takes a business trip with a colleague to whom he’s attracted. While he’s resisting temptation, his wife encounters her past love.”

Variety says Last Night is “a tastefully provocative, ultimately haunting pic.”

That all of the characters — including the unmarried objects of desire (Guillaume Canet and Eva Mendes) — appear painfully aware of the ramifications of screwing around makes the movie an intellectual experience as much as an emotional one… Tadjedin, charting her intermittently honest and cagey characters through various flashbacks and flash-forwards, asks the viewer to consider whether a purely emotional affair can be as destructive to a marriage as a sexual one, if not moreso. Her highly distinguished crew of collaborators — including costume designer Ann Roth, editor Susan Morse, d.p. Peter Deming and music supervisor Randall Poster — make the enticement palpable with alluring contributions that push past an audience’s defenses.

Thanks to Danielle to the tip to the trailer (until tonight only available dubbed in Italian). Last Night looks to be one the rare romantic melodramas with as much interest to male moviegoers as to the females who drag them to see it. Movieline’s S.T. VanAirsdale says the “elegant filmmaking gets you exactly where you want to go ‚Äî and in first-class, at that.”

The narrative landmines are everywhere in this kind of material (you always hold your breath when cell phones become a plot point), but Tadjedin treads carefully on each of her parallel tracks. It’s highly discursive stuff — Before Sunrise meets Eyes Wide Shut would be the closest analog — and almost to the actor, her naturalism finds its way to the screen. Knightley and Canet are an achingly beautiful pair, as captivated with each other as they are consumed with the encroaching heartbreak of their conditions — one married, one single, both longing. Love is a terminal illness for these two, and they have hours to live. It doesn’t hurt that brilliant cinematographer Peter Deming is doing the shooting, couching the duo in the kind of lush, noirish light that’s practically synonymous with seduction.