Joanna Reed (played by Keira Knightley) is a beautiful young writer, living in New York. Her first book has been published and she is trying to get going on her second – but is racked with self-doubt. She has been together with Michael (by Sam Worthington) on and off for seven years – they have been married for the past four. After a work function, Joanna accuses Michael of having an affair with his work colleague, Laura (by Eva Mendes). They fight and Michael admits his attraction to Laura but that no affair has occurred. The next day Michael goes out of town for work and Joanna is regretful that she overreacted – after all, Michael and Laura are away together, but she is not concerned. When she is out for a coffee, Joanna bumps into her Parisien ex-lover Alex (by Guillaume Canet), on his last day of a visit to New York and she agrees to see him for a drink that evening. Now apart for the night, Michael and Joanna each spend the next few hours faced with temptation. Each has an attraction to their short-term companion, but each also has a strong love and loyalty to their spouse and their marriage. Both are tested – they each make decisions and take actions as they confront their true feelings, honesty and loyalty …
This is not a romantic comedy – it’s an exploration of emotion, trust and human behaviour. It’s slow moving, but there are interesting points made. Nobody is happy in this movie and nobody is honest – either to their partner or to themselves. At first I found myself blaming the “interlopers” as they each try very hard to influence Michael or Joanna to “forget their loyalties” and misbehave. But then I decided that everyone must be responsible for their own decisions and the consequences of their own behaviour. I didn’t develop any affinity, endearment or sympathy for any of the four main characters. But the movie presents some interesting dilemmas, which you will probably enjoy discussing with others once you have watched this – it’s the kind of movie that sticks in your mind for ages afterwards as you think through all the behaviours you see and the potential scenario’s. Keira Knightly is luminous, she is very beautiful and quite authentic here. Sam Worthington’s “Aussie” accent is almost cringe-worthy, but he’s just being himself – and I think that’s true for them all, Eva Mendes’ does a great job as Laura. She is interesting, there is clearly a lot more to her and I think the movie would have been enhanced by knowing more of how she ticked. But that wasn’t really a salient point. Alex is French, but he’s a bit of a surprise package – not how you would usually see a gallic hero portrayed in the movies.
Overall, it is quite a good movie – but don’t watch it if you want a nice, warm, happy feeling after you’ve seen it.
Made in 2011. Directed by Massy Tadjedin