The Night We Never Met
Directed by Warren Leight. Starring Matthew Broderick, Annabella Sciorra, Kevin Anderson, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Justine Bateman. (1993)
REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., May 7, 1993
If this were only slighter, it might be more substantial. Brian (Anderson) is getting married and has already moved in with his girlfriend. In order to keep his rent-controlled New York apartment as a twice-a-week bachelor pad he decides to rent out other days of the week. Two of those days go to love-starved Sam (Broderick), a cheese counter clerk at Dean & Deluca. Just broken up with his performance artist girlfriend of two years, Sam rents it as a place to get away from the hovel he calls home, crowded with wall-to-wall bodies. Here he cooks gourmet meals ands tries to romance women. Dental hygienist Ellen (Sciorra) uses her two days a week place to get away from her husband. Over the months a relationship develops between all three of the tenants, though they never meet, from what they leave behind of themselves. A case of mistaken identity, many failed seductions, and some remarkable twists and turns pass as we learn how ideally suited Sam and Ellen are for each other, though they don't meet until the end of the film. This is the film's gift -- the charm with which it captures these two. But for a film like this to succeed it must be full of humanity, overflowing with characters. This one is but they are all two-dimensional: the exhibitionist manipulative performance artist girlfriend, the insensitive and driven husband. The correct moral course is always clear, ambiguities are not entertained. In all its choices the film offers no real options. This tone piled upon the overwhelming coincidences that are supposed to drive the plot, drown whatever charm the central characters manage to generate.