Movie Magazine International

One Night Stand

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

If Mike Figgis' last film "Leaving Las Vegas" can be described as choose death, then his much lighter new film, "One Night Stand" should be described as choose life.

Wesley Snipes plays a devotee of the rat race who's hit the big time directing commercials. He lives the good life in L.A., which, by definition, implies a healthy helping of superficiality. He's got a big house, nice kids, fab career, and a gorgeous wife who can't keep her hands off Mr. Pufenstuf, if you catch my drift. It's also a life where any conversations deeper than a hot tub are considered gauche. He's going along, living his life when two things happen to him, the combination of which make him realize that he's been sleepwalking for years.

On a trip to New York to see AIDS-stricken friend Robert Downey, Jr., to whom he hasn't spoken in five years, Snipes has an epiphany of sorts. Life is short. Okay, not original. But the brilliance of this film isn't that the ideas are new, but that Figgis writes them scalpel sharp and relevant. While there, through fate or coincidence, whichever you prefer, he meets lovely Nastassja Kinski, who shows him some kindness when he's in need. One thing leads to another and they end up doing the title deed. Though what happens between them is anything but the impersonal jollies the appellation implies.

Back in L.A., Snipes is guilt-ridden. But as a result of his trip, he sees his life in a way he never has before. Whether it's a pickle and sauerkraut account or shooting commercials for Armani, it's all vacuous and soul-sucking. Sex with the Mrs. has all the eroticism of a paint-by-numbers kit. In short, everything that the one-night stand was supposed to be.

Snipes, likeable throughout, drops hints to the audience from the get-go about his character's subconscious discontent, and then slowly, perfectly, shows that unhappiness rising to the surface. His performance is enhanced by Kinski and Downey, who are earnest and soulful without being gloppy.

"One Night Stand" is a darkly comic film that's subversively hopeful. Be kind, it says, be true to yourself, and trust that the details will sort themselves out.

© 1997 Andrea Chase Air Date: 11/12/97

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