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Last Night DVD Review

Last Night (2011) movie poster Last Night

US Theatrical Release: May 6, 2011 / Running Time: 93 Minutes / Rating: R / Songs List

Writer/Director: Massy Tadjedin

Cast: Keira Knightley (Joanna Reed), Sam Worthington (Michael Reed), Guillaume Canet (Alex Mann), Eva Mendes (Laura), Griffin Dunne (Andy), Scott Adsit (Stuart), Daniel Eric Gold (Truman), Stephanie Romanov (Sandra), Anson Mount (Neal)

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Last Night stars Keira Knightley and Avatar's Sam Worthington as a young married English couple living in New York City. Having met in college, Joanna and Michael Reed have been together for seven years,
the past three of them in marriage. Things seem pretty content between the two, who have an improbably spacious and tastefully decorated Manhattan apartment. But, as the movie explores, it isn't hard for cracks to form in their relationship.

The film opens with the couple attending the opening of an art exhibit. There, Joanna is not pleased to meet Laura (Eva Mendes), a colleague of Michael who he's spent time with, hasn't mentioned, and can't seem to take his eyes off. Back home, the wife accuses her husband of having cheated on her with Laura, accusations he coolly resents and denies. Joanna sleeps on the couch, but the two make up just in time for Michael and Laura to take off for a business trip in Philadelphia.

"Last Night" stars Sam Worthington and Keira Knightley as the Reeds, a young couple whose marriage is put to the test.

As if by some tremendous coincidence, Joanna runs into Alex (the Patrick Dempseyish Guillaume Canet), a Frenchman, fellow writer, and former love with whom she has fond memories. The two of them catch up, going out to dinner with his longtime friends (Griffin Dunne and Stephanie Romanov) and together walking an out-of-town friend's dog. Meanwhile, Michael and Laura get cozy on their trip, starting with drinks and proceeding to their hotel pool.

Last Night bounces between the two extramarital pairings, its parallels obvious but understated. Lies grow and temptation looms over each of the spouses. The design may sound nasty: a happily married couple, separated only briefly by an overnight business trip, are lured into infidelity by attractive, accessible singles whose existence and significance have been downplayed or downright unmentioned. But this film, the directorial debut of The Jacket screenwriter Massy Tadjedin, offers a mature and intelligent, if not especially realistic, look at challenges to marital commitment.

Though the subject matter may sound more suitable for a lurid Harlequin romance than an independent film, it plays out artfully and more than you'd expect given by the limited range that screen-sharing Worthington and Mendes have previously been asked to show. Perhaps inevitably, their half is the less classy and passionate, unfolding like a jealous partner's nightmare, albeit with awareness and deliberation preceding any potential intimacy. Knightley and Canet have more history and substance. They too talk more than they act, with Dunne adding an older generation's wisdom and perspective to the discussion.

Stalkerish but charming French writer Alex (Guillaume Canet) catches up with Jo according to plan. Designer Laura (Eva Mendes) tempts Michael at the bar.

Tadjedin's drama could seem broody to those who have never been in a serious, long-term relationship. Even so, it hits some welcome true notes in small moments you can recognize without ever having talked about before,
like when you see the person you're about to meet before they see you. Little touches like that add humanity and intrigue to a story that requires both.

Last Night was one of a handful of Miramax films scheduled for imminent release when the Walt Disney Company sold that storied art house division and its 800-title library to the investment group Filmyard Holdings. Disney retained a couple (The Tempest, Gnomeo & Juliet), releasing them with Touchstone Pictures branding. However, Last Night, the Guillermo del Toro-produced Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, and Worthington and Helen Mirren's espionage thriller The Debt all went with the lot. Delayed, the latter two will open at the end of next month with help from FilmDistrict and Focus Features, respectively. The theatrical release of Last Night, meanwhile, already came and went. The film played in just ten North American theaters in May, as seemingly the first theatrical release on record distributed by Tribeca Film, an offshoot of the Robert De Niro-backed New York festival where Last Night made its US debut last April.

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, which has acquired video rights for over 250 of Miramax's lower-profile catalog titles, brings Last Night to DVD alone on Tuesday.

Last Night DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.98
Black Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

Last Night looks pretty good on DVD. The 2.35:1 transfer is a little dark, but very clean and with a satisfying amount of detail. There are also no major gripes to level at the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, which does a fine job of dispersing score and a slight bit of atmosphere. A 2.0 stereo mix is also offered, as are blue-outlined white English SDH subtitles, somewhat of a luxury for Echo Bridge.

In light of the lack of bonus features, enjoy this shot of Griffin Dunne listening attentively. The smiling face of Keira Knightley is placed over a Manhattan skyline on the DVD's animated main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

There's no "bonus features" menu but a "digital format" listing supplies directions for accessing the one DVD-ROM supplement found here: a digital copy of the movie. Interestingly, the MP4 and WMV versions can be accessed and transferred without the usual unique activation code (none is provided).
Also interestingly, Echo Bridge has managed to fit those two files (a total of 1.4 GB) on the same single layer as the standard-definition movie presentation, come well under DVD-5 capacity, and still not exhibit any glaring compression issues (until close inspection anyway). That's an achievement that sometimes eludes much larger studios using dual-layered discs and likewise no additional on-disc bonus features.

The blue-tinted main menu lays character clips over a West Side skyline. Score accompanies this and the other menus, which are static after transitions. Before the main menu loads, a trailer plays for Zach Braff's The High Cost of Living which is prematurely claimed to be "now on DVD."

There are no inserts within the standard black keepcase. The full-color disc art recycles the lower half of the cover.

Joanna Reed (Keira Knightley) is very comfortable in the company of her old French flame Alex (Guillaume Canet).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

With cover art hard to find online just three days before street date, Last Night sure looks like a movie that will be easy to miss, despite its plentiful star power. I can see the adulterous subject matter turning off many viewers, but the execution is moderately compelling and satisfactory. Echo Bridge's DVD is a lot more barren than it should be, but the feature presentation is fine, the price is low, and don't forget those digital copies! Fans of mature drama, a rarity these days, ought to give this a look.

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Related Giveaway: Win Last Night on DVD and a movie poster signed by Keira Knightley!

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Last Night Songs List (in order of use): studio musicians - "Club Night", studio musicians - "Minor JC", Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers - "Filthy and Free", Mozart Festival Orchestra - "Symphony No. 16 in C Major KV 128 - Allegro Maestoso", Bat For Lashes - "Daniel", "Take Your Time", Sophie Hunger - "House of Gods", Moby - "Mothers of the Night", Calexico and Iron & Wine - "He Lays in the Reins", The Cave Singers - "Seeds of Night", Pale Young Gentlemen - "There Is a Place?", Rhyme Nor Reason - "Parasalene", Great Lake Swimmers - "Changing Colours", M83 - "I Guess I'm Floating", South - "A Place in Displacement", Moscow Olympics - "Still", Explosions in the Sky - "So Long, Lonesome", Peter Broderick and Clint Mansell - "Not at Home (Last Night)"

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Reviewed July 30, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Miramax Films, Gaumont, Tribeca Film, and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.