One Night Stand

on November 14, 1997 by Kevin Courrier
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   There probably isn't another contemporary director who can put inchoate moods and sexual undercurrents on the screen quite like Mike Figgis, as shown in "Stormy Monday," "Internal Affairs" and "Leaving Las Vegas." Although in "One Night Stand" he's working from a simpler and less developed story than in his previous films, the emotions he gets at are anything but simple.
   Max Carlyle (Wesley Snipes) is a commercial director who is happily married to Mimi ("The Joy Luck Club's" Ming-Na Wen) in Los Angeles. One night during a trip to New York, he meets another woman, Karen (Nastassja Kinski), who is also married. Their chance encounter leads to a one-night stand with a mutual agreement of no strings attached, but when Max returns home he is no longer the same person. When he returns to New York a year later to visit his friend Charlie (Robert Downey Jr.) who is being hospitalized with AIDS, he finds out that Karen is married to Charlie's brother Vernon ("Showgirls'" Kyle MacLachlan).
   Despite a miscue at the beginning that has him talking to the camera, Snipes (who won the best actor prize at the Venice fest for his work here) hasn't been this good or this engaging since "Rising Sun." And Kinski, who's prone to brooding, shows a frisky and sensual side that hasn't been evident since James Toback's "Exposed." Downey, who has the role of the dying artist, also turns a cliche into a tour-de-force, delivering what Tom Hanks only promised in "Philadelphia."
   "One Night Stand" could be an appropriate bookend to Hal Ashby/Robert Towne's 1974 film "Shampoo." "Shampoo" was about how the hopeful and hedonistic '60s came to an end, with people pairing off and settling for something less from sexual partners than they once desired. "One Night Stand" is about hedonistic people who've lived compromised lives and are now trying to find new ways to sexually and emotionally connect in what has become the diminished expectations of the '90s. Starring Wesley Snipes, Nastassja Kinski, Robert Downey Jr. and Kyle MacLchlan. Directed and written by Mike Figgis. Produced by Mike Figgis, Annie Stewart and Ben Myron. A New Line release. Drama. Rated R for strong sexuality and language, and for drug content. Running time: 103 min. Screened at Toronto
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