After seeing Mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas, I was expecting a lot from One Night Stand. I’m sad to say that I’m sorely disappointed with One Night Stand.
One Night Stand opens with Max Carlyle (Wesley Snipes) talking directly to the audience, explaining some back history. After this opening monologue, we get into the first “act”. The first act is great. It is a character study of Snipes’ Max and Natassja Kinski’s Karen. Max is in New York for business and on the day that he is scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles, where he lives, he misses his flight. He meets Karen, who after a series of events, ends up with Max in bed. This first act shows the characters well. It is when this first act ends and the words “One Year Later” pops up on the screen does the movie slide downhill and turn into the average soap opera. One year after Max and Karen’s one night stand, Max’s best friend, who is gay and HIV positive, Charlie (Robert Downey Jr.) is dying. In a freak coincident Max meets up with Karen again through a predictable plot twist. From here we get to see the typical “marriage on the rocks” drama.
Figgis who takes quad-duties with One Night Stand; writing, directing, composing the music, and producing, should have really concentrated on one or two of these things instead of all four. The writing, which originates from a Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct) script, is mediocre at best. The music is, most of the time, out of place. And the directing is off beat.
The performances by the leads are good. Snipes does a good job with his role as Max Carlyle, though there could have been more from him. Kiniski is great as Karen. As for Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie, he is the one to see the movie for. Though his part in the movie is just a cheap way of getting Max and Karen back together, Downey Jr. gives a touching performance as the dying Charlie. On the minor roles, Ming-Na Wen (The Joy Luck Club) gives an average performance as Max’s sex-starved wife. And Kyle MacLachlan (The Trigger Effect) gives a bland boring performance as Charlie’s homophobic brother.
One of my bigger complaints about One Night Stand, next to the music and writing, is the way the camera and the cuts are handled. Both seem sloppy, at least to me, and the slow fades to black make the slow moving movie seem even slower. I think that Figgis’ is trying too hard to make his films “different” and it shows.
One Night Stand is definitely video-only material. Leaving Las Vegas was a great movie that did character studies on the two leads, but One Night Stand is just a typical shallow TV soap opera made for the big screen. And though I enjoyed the first third or so of the film, the rest of the film is somewhat unbearable and the plot twists are completely predictable and silly. Figgis should learn to concentrate more on one or two roles in the film making process instead of trying to take the reigns at four of them. Skip One Night Stand in the theatres and if you want to see a third of a good film or a great performance from Robert Downey Jr., check it out on video.
“Life is like an orange.” - Charlie.