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dir-scr Massy Tadjedin
prd Christophe Riandee, Massy Tadjedin, Nick Wechsler
with Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillaume Canet, Daniel Eric Gold, Griffin Dunne, Stephanie Romanov, Scott Adsit, Anson Mount, Justine Cotsonas, Chriselle Almeida, Rae Ritke
release Fr 16.Feb.11, US 6.May.11, UK 3.Jun.11
10/France Miramax 1h30
ilicit love: Canet and Knightley
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Writer-turned-director Tadjedin takes a slightly stagey approach to the theme of marital trust with this darkly provocative drama about a fateful night in a couple's relationship. It's fascinating and well-played, but too schematic to feel realistic.
After a company party, Joanna (Knightley) challenges her husband Michael (Worthington) about his feelings toward his sexy colleague Laura (Mendes). Nothing has happened between them, but he admits that there might be some attraction. The problem is that he's travelling the following night to Philadelphia with Laura and another colleague (Gold). There, Joanna's suggestion opens him to some serious temptation. Meanwhile in New York, Joanna is surprised when a former flame from Paris, Alex (Canet), arrives for one night. And she too is faced with the chance to do something she shouldn't.
The film is assembled like a play with a split set, as conversations overlap between two couples on the verge of infidelity. It's such an obvious set-up that we know from the start that one of them will probably give in emotionally and the other will give in physically, simply so the writer can demonstrate two kinds of cheating. And all we can do is hope that the title refers to the party rather than any contrived histrionics when they reunite the following day.
While there are some obvious film-school touches along the way, Tadjedin also knows the value of ambiguity, and this allows the actors to give introspective, revelatory performances. Worthington is easily the standout in this sense, letting us see into his soul in a remarkable way. Canet also gives Alex a remarkable depth beneath his casually charming exterior. Knightley's stick-thin physicality is a bit of a distraction from her interesting performance, while Mendes' character doesn't seem to have much depth at all.
As the long night continues, the theatricality of the structure becomes even more apparent, as does the way it resembles a French film with incessant dialog that doesn't quite say what the characters are really thinking. But at least it's smart and thoughtful, tackling some serious relational issues in a way that forces us to take sides and wonder what we would do or say in the same situation.
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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