One Night Stand, director Mike Figgis follow-up to his
acclaimed previous picture Leaving Las Vegas, fails and fails
badly. What promises to be at the very least titillating, with
its storyline involving infidelity, turns out to be a yawn.
It opens with Wesley Snipes, playing successful L.A.
TV-commercial director Max Carlyle, explaining documentary-style
to the camera why he happens to be in New York. Hes there
for work and, he says, to visit, his estranged friend Charlie
(Robert Downey Jr.) who hes just learned has HIV.
Circumstances cause him to miss his plane, so he takes in a
concert with a new acquaintance named
Karen (Nastassja Kinski). After Max saves Karen from being mugged, she falls into his arms, and together, they both commit adultery.
Back in L.A., Max rejoins his life of shooting highly pretentious
commercials and bickering with his wife (Ming-Na Wen) over his
holier-than-thou posing and his low sex drive. A year later,
hes back in New York to visit Charlie, now in a hospital
weeks away from dying. There, he stumbles into Karen again. It
turns out shes Charlies sister-in-law.
Wesley Snipes in Mike Figgis' One Night Stand
Where Figgis rattled emotions with Leaving Las Vegas, he can
barely get a pulse reading with One Night Stand. There are some
tense moments that make Max sweat. When he returns to L.A.
unshowered after his tryst, the family dog sniffs at his lap, and
when Karen and his wife meet over Charlies hospital bed, he
shifts nervously. But these instances exist within a lot of
padding scenes of dinner parties, bedside celebrations for
Charlie, professional squabbling between Max and his boss
so that the core of what this movie is supposed to be about gets
buried. What drives Karen and Max to cheat? The answer is simple:
theyre in the same room, theyve got some energy to
burn from the stress of the mugging, and its way too late
for anything good to be on television. And what are the
consequences? Save for a few caught-with-your-pants-down moments,
the players are kept from anything too sticky. In fact, One Night
Stand may possess one of the lousiest payoffs in recent movie
The actors are cast out with nothing to hang onto. Some muddle
through it better than others. Snipes bears it out as best as he
can, feeling his way as he goes, as if he cant entirely get
comfortable in this character. Kinski, for her part, is
especially remote, like shes acting behind a scrim, which
seems to be evidence that her character a rocket
scientist, no less wasnt fully developed. Wen throws
a little oomph behind her small role with her false giggles and
bad jokes. The actor who really gets a beating is Robert Downey
Jr., who spends most of his screentime gasping behind an oxygen
mask. This appears to be his punishment for behaving so badly in
the past. He must serve as the dying man who imparts wisdom, the
raspier its delivered the better. Life is an
orange, he tells Max. What does it mean? Like the rest of
One Night Stand, it means nothing at all.