One Night Stand

December 4, 2005 - Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) wrote and directed this 1997 film about a man and a woman, each married, who have a one-night stand. Figgis also composed the film score.

The man at the center of things is Max, played by Wesley Snipes. He lives in LA and makes his living directing commercials. He's married to Mimi, played by Ming-Na Wen. They have two kids.

The movie opens with Max walking through New York City. He's apparently in town to cast a commercial, but explains that he's also going to see his friend, Charlie (Robert Downey Jr.), who's recently found out he's HIV-positive. Max and Charlie had a falling out about five years ago, so Max wants to set things right before it's too late. The meeting over with, Max and his team from the office are set to fly back to LA. In the hotel, Max makes eye contact with Karen (Nastassja Kinski), a pretty blonde. She notices that Max's pen has leaked all over his shirt – a black spot on his heart she calls it. She invites him up to her room to change his shirt, and during small talk, they discover that they share an appreciation for the Julliard String Quartet.

The shirt incident causes Max to miss his plane. He spends the day wandering the city, eventually seeking out Karen at the concert hall where the string quartet is playing. Afterwards, they go for drinks. As they're walking back, they're mugged. Max manages to fight them off, but they're both pretty scared. They end up spending the night together then reluctantly go back to their separate lives.

Max's problem now is that, after this night, he realizes he doesn't much like his life anymore. His wife is superficial, he's been reduced to doing commercials for pickle companies, and Charlie eventually loses his fight against AIDS. He realizes just how miserable he really is when Karen comes back into the picture. This time, Max has a clean shirt, but he still has that black spot on his heart.

Overall review: *** Probably more like 2 and a half, but I'll give it three stars because the music is just great. The cast is also good. In addition to Snipes and Kinski, it includes Kyle MacLachlan and Robert Downey Jr. Amanda Donohoe, John Ratzenberger, Thomas Haden Church and Julian Sands have smaller roles. Look for Figgis as the hotel clerk.

This is really a story about introverts and extroverts and why they shouldn't be married to each other. Max is an I, his wife is an E. At one point, he's on the verge of telling her about the affair, but she interrupts. Karen is also an I married to an E. When she and Max are together, they don't need to talk much; their eyes say it all. Their respective spouses, however, don't know when to shut up.