Massy Tadjedin's new movie Last Night should maybe come with a warning: "Caution, this film will cause you to become emotionally involved in other people's relationship problems." And while that's not always a good thing (who needs more baggage, anyway?) throw in an all-star cast including Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, and Eva Mendes- along with a universally relatable storyline-and you have the type of movie that's so good, you'll be tempted to re-watch it as soon as it's over. We chatted with Tadjedin about the inspiration behind the story, the scariest part about making her directing debut, and why she's obsessed with Jaws.
How did Last Night come about?
Well, I've wanted to direct since I was 12 years old. Wrote the script about 3 years ago, but it began when Keira [Knightly] signed on. Making the movie was like every independent film; it was hard to finance, but all worthwhile.
What was the inspiration behind the film?
I'll definitely admit it was personal, but not autobiographical. Anyone who's been in a relationship and is honest about it will grapple with one or more of these issues. I just wanted to ask these questions and tell a story. It's still a romantic story about life and the choices you make. I set out to make the type of film I like to watch.
It doesn't seem like there was a right or wrong answer at the end of the movie....
I don't have the answer to the ending, so I felt like it would be disingenuous to try to say I do. The ambiguity is reflective of life; it doesn't give you solid answers. I don't believe that there's a right or a wrong, and the gray is the area I like to live in.
What's your writing process like?
It varies from project to project, but with Last Night, it was very fluid and took 3 weeks to write the script. I wanted it to be contained over a specific amount of time, just one night.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced as a first-time director?
As a first time filmmaker, everything is very new to you. You never really learn how to direct until you direct. The biggest thing was time. Since we shot it in 28 days, the clock seems to be ticking, and that was a challenge.
What are your favorite movies?
I love movies that reflect real life, but I also love movies that help me to escape. I love cinema and I love the of going into a theater where your life is on hold. Jaws, A Man and a Woman, The French Connection, Sex, Lies, and Videotapes, Husbands and Wives, there are so many!