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IN SHORT: Almost dead in the water. But not quite.
Director Mike Figgis, according to statements in the press notes for One Night Stand, set out to make three movies here -- one detailing the development of the one night stand between a married man and a married woman; one detailing the effect on the life of the principal character; one showing the ultimate effect on both couples involved. He wanted each individual character to be sympathetic, to not serve up a one dish flick.
If you're not married or in a regular dating relationship, this ain't the flick for you. Unless, of course, you're a film student in which case there's lots of stuff for you to talk about over coffee and cigarettes.
The first "movie" begins with LA based commercial director Max (Wesley Snipes) introducing himself to the audience in a New York City street sequence that have the feel of an improvisation. Max has come to New York to reacquaint himself with performance artist ex-best friend Charlie (Robert Downey Jr.) who's been diagnosed HIV positive. Other than that, Max and Karen (Nastassja Kinski) lock eyes across a crowded hotel lounge and from then on it's all slow movement, smokey jazz music and what feels like a lot of improvisation on the part of the actors. While the reason for the actual betrayal is logical, getting to it will bore you to tears, and ruin your attention span for the rest of the flick, which is far superior to the start.
Upon his return to LA, we are introduced to Max's undersexed screamer wife Mimi (Ming-Na Wen) and watch him alienate himself from her, his boss and his friends. Max behaves like a petulant child. Figgis' dialog begins to crackle.
A year later, it's back to New York, for the death of Charlie and the reintroduction of Karen into Max's life and, finally, the flick kicks to life. Downey gets the death scene that actors yearn for and it's kick ass electric. Kyle MacLachlan fills out the dance card as Charlie's older brother Vernon. The final events of movie two and the final resolution seen in movie three will only surprise you if you've been enthralled from the word go.
If you had time to clean your nails and stretch in your seat, the back of your mind will figure out the plot twist long before it happens. Which is too bad, 'cuz it's a whopper.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for One Night Stand, he would have paid . . .
Unless, as I wrote, you're in a relationship or a film student. In that case it's quite a bit higher.
Wesley Snipes walked off with the Volpi Cup Award as Best Actor from the Venice Film Festival for his portrayal of the philandering Max. Snipes got an award. But Downey Jr. steals the show (and Ming-Na Wen ain't far behind).
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