In Brief: Iranian American Screenwriter and Director’s Film Opens to Acclaim

By Kia Makarechi

May 31, 2011, Los Angeles, CA – It’s unusual for a movie to feature British, Australian, French and American stars, but the drama-romance “Last Night” ably culls the strengths of Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Guillaume Canet and Eva Mendes into an evocative look into the complicated nature of adultery.

But for writer and director Massy Tadjedin, the international cast provides the necessary ingredients for her feature film debut.

The four top-bill actors put in turns as a couple and two temptations: Knightley and Worthington play Joanna and Michael Reed while Mendes and Canet play the oversexed colleague and the former lover, respectively. Predictable complications arise, and the majority of the plot invokes the often familiar yet always tenuous dance between loyalty and desire.

Amid somewhat mixed reviews, Entertainment Weekly hails “Last Night” as a “fascinating” meditation on the “purpose [adultery] serves, beyond sex,” and the New York Observer says the movie is “beautifully shot and reeking with style.” Mendes herself describes it as a “romantic suspense movie,” and critics seem to agree.

Tadjedin was born and raised in Orange County, California, with Hollywood roots stretch back nearly a decade. The 34-year-old, who knows resides in Los Angeles, grew up watching the John Wayne movies familiar to many Iranian-Americans, and later rewrote the screenplay for the Adrien Brody and Knightley thriller “The Jacket.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Tadjedin describes the difficulties that face a director aiming to fill her first movie with A-list actors: “I think it was always a difficult film to pitch, to persuade. For the actors, for the financing…Especially for a first-time director…You [create story] boards and you sell and you peddle your wares that you’ve spent so much time crafting, but it was a risk for everyone. What if I was a nut job?”

Both Mendes and Knightley attribute their participation in the project solely to Tadjedin’s tenacity in chasing them down and convincing them that their roles were complex and engaging. Mendes told the Times that she appreciated the chance to “connect with a female director and talk about this woman and not objectify her as the other woman but give her a real true life and make her honest.”

The film is being hailed a stylistic triumph, a sort of lamp-lit love letter to New York that lavishes special attention on the streets and corners of Tribeca itself.

In the end, Tribeca and Miramax decided to bet on Tadjedin — the movie is now playing in select cities across the United States. She can rightfully take her place in the community of Iranians starring in, writing and directing English-language films, joining the likes of Shohreh Adghdashloo (“The House of Sand and Fog”), Bahar Soomekh (“Crash”), Shaun Toub (“Crash,” “The Kite Runner,” “Iron Man”), Daryush Shokof (“Seven Servants”), Farhad Safinia (“Apocalypto”), Bob Yari (“Crash”), Nazanin Boniadi (“Iron Man”) and Golshifteh Farahani (“Body of Lies”).

It’s safe to say that the cinema world now awaits Massy Tadjedin’s next project with great anticipation. 

Movie Website: www.lastnightmovie.com 


Kia Makarechi is a News Editor for the Huffington Post. He lives in New York, and can be contacted at kia.makarechi@huffingtonpost.com.

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