Magazine article The Spectator

Too Neat

Magazine article The Spectator

Too Neat

Article excerpt

One-Night Stand

(18, selected cinemas)

During sex, Mimi likes to bark out instructions - 'Almost, almost. Circle, circle! Slower, gentle. Harder, harder! - leaving her husband twitching nervously like a man playing a sudden-death video game with a wonky joystick. Not many of us would fancy that sort of thing - except maybe during the monthly Driving Instructor night at the local masochists' club - so Mike Figgis has no problem setting up shallow, self-centred Mimi as an object of derision.

For One-Night Stand, Figgis serves as writer, director, co-producer and composer and the trouble is that, in that last capacity, his approach to the drama is much the same as Mimi's to sex. The gist of every new scene is telegraphed by some ludicrous mood change in the incidental score, lurching as it does every 12 seconds from cocktail jazz to elevator rock to cello obliggato: slower, gentle; harder, harder; pensive, wistful; hectic, frantic; nervous, guilty; empty, sterile . . .

This is Figgis's first film since Leaving Las Vegas, which, for all its darkly sophisticated sheen, peddled all the usual (and, in my limited experience of either calling, false) cliches about drunks and hookers. But, because it was made for less than the cost of most blockbusters' underwear budgets, its gloomy lighting and indistinct dialogue were mistaken for profundity and the director was hailed as the thinking moviegoer's antidote to Hollywood. Having taken leave of Las Vegas, Figgis now seems to have taken leave of his senses. Even more than its predecessor, One-Night Stand is so high on its own atmosphere that everything else goes by the wayside.

Max (Wesley Snipes), a successful director of commercials, flies from the West Coast to New York to see Charlie, his former best pal, now HIV positive (Robert Downey Jnr). While in town, a string of creaky coincidences such as the most execrable Hollywood formula junk would eschew leads him into the presence of a vulnerable, lip-biting bottled-blonde whose locks tumble fetchingly down her face. On the rare occasions when the torrent of hair briefly lifts, the lovely face of Natassja Kinski can be glimpsed. Her name is Karen, and no sooner does Max espy her than a thick, sticky fluid is staining his clothes. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out where we're headed - though, in fact, Karen is a rocket scientist. …

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