[Screen It]


(1997) (Wesley Snipes, Nastassja Kinski) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy None Moderate Minor Minor
Mild None Minor None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Extreme Mild Mild Moderate Minor

Drama: A man can't let go of a one night stand, and that guilt and the thought of the other woman puts a strain on his marriage.
Max (WESLEY SNIPES) is a thirty-five-year-old Los Angeles-based commercial director who's happily married with two kids. In New York for a job, Max visits Charlie (ROBERT DOWNEY JR.), an old friend he hasn't seen since their friendship ended some five years ago. Charlie is a gay performance artist and is HIV positive, and Max feels they should make amends. During the day Max occasionally catches glimpses of an attractive woman, and their eye contact suggests a quick developing passion for each other. After he misses his flight back home, Max goes and finds this woman, Karen (NASTASSJA KINSKI), and the two spend the night on the town. After a tense near-mugging, Max stays with Karen to comfort her and one thing leads to another and they have an affair.

Max returns home the next day, but his guilt and thoughts of Karen begin to strain his marriage to Mimi (MING-NA WEN). More time passes and Max returns to see Charlie who's now dying of AIDs, and there he meets Charlie's older brother Vernon (KYLE MACLACHLAN), who just so happens to be married to Karen. Eventually the two couples get together and this outing is awkward for the guilty members. As more time passes by, Max must decide what he wants from life and whether that includes Mimi or Karen.

If they're fans of someone in the cast, they might. This doesn't appear, however, to have much drawing power regarding kids.
For strong sexuality and language, and for drug content.
  • WESLEY SNIPES plays a man who cheats on his wife, smokes pot and curses a lot.
  • NASTASSJA KINSKI plays a married woman who has an affair with a married man she just met.
  • ROBERT DOWNEY JR. plays a gay man who's dying of aids.


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    An odd mix of the aftermath of a one night stand with the unrelated effects of dying from AIDs, this is writer/director Mike Figgis' follow up work to his Oscar nominated "Leaving Las Vegas." The subjects are uncommon, but do allow the two plot lines eventually to interact with each other. Why these two subjects are pasted together isn't blatantly obvious, other than to say (as the characters do at the end of the story) that life is short and you better do what you can to make yourself happy during your brief time here. Despite that sober sounding message, one can never tell if the film is meant to be taken seriously as there is a moderate amount of comic tension present. For example, when Max returns home after his affair, the family dog smells something different on him and won't let him be. In another scene, Max is ready to confess to his cheating when his wife beats him to the punch and states that she already knows, but wonders if he did just once, or if he did it several times (she's ultimately talking about him smoking). There are also the scenes where the two couples get together for dinner and the resulting effect is comically awkward.

    The film's strange aura starts at the very beginning where Snipes' character breaks "the fourth wall" (a theater expression for addressing the audience who sits where the theoretical fourth wall of a stage play would stand). He looks right into the camera and then starts giving us the back story. I wondered if it was going to be some sort of documentary being filmed that we'd then see him talking into another camera in the movie, but no, he's talking directly to us. Why this device was employed is beyond me. The information he delivers (which is surprisingly little) could easily have been presented in several brief lines of dialogue, and the "fourth wall" device is rarely used after that opening. You know us we hate voice over narration unless it's absolutely necessary or is used as a last resort. Here it serves no real purpose and is occasionally so bad it's silly. Snipes says "Death is so f*cking strange" and then later adds "Everything that was hollow and false inside me suddenly seem so clear." Sure...we all talk (or think) like that. Had Figgis continued to break the fourth wall that would have been one thing, but its random use is odd and distracting. You can't help but wonder if Snipes is going to pause in some given scene, look over at us, and give us a wink.

    The film also suffers from an odd shooting style that mixes slow motion footage with strange fading out and fading in effects. While it's certainly different looking, it serves no real purpose other than to blatantly look different from other films, and like some of the other material it's a distraction from the movie's flow. The performances are good, with Robert Downey Jr. providing a believable, if uncomfortable to watch, take on a man dying of AIDs. Perhaps his recent problems with heroin addiction (and the obligatory withdrawal effects) gave him some real life practice in appearing the way he does in this movie. The other performers are good but not outstanding with Snipes doing his usual calm, in control character, and Kinski showing she still has a sultry aura about her.

    Figgis has now developed a penchant for creating weak characters who cave in to their physical cravings and needs and he fills this film with such beings. Like Nicolas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas" who couldn't get the thought of liquor out of his mind, Snipes' character can't get Kinski out of his, nor she out of hers. Added to that his need for cigarettes and then for pot, and you've got one tremendously flawed character. And of course there's the Charlie character who's dying of AIDs. Not a fun bunch of people to hang out with, and like the superior "Leaving Las Vegas" these flawed characters keep the audience at a distance and the empathy at a minimum. It's like seeing a bum on the street you might give him a quarter but you're probably not going to ask about his personal life. Still, the characters' needs fuel the plot, which is a good thing because the rest of it feels awkward and disjointed.

    Added to that is a bad sound mix where at times the street noises and other sounds nearly drown out the dialogue, while at other times it's perfectly fine. Figgis may be using that symbolically (these people being drowned by their surroundings, or the big city), but it's very annoying and makes understanding the dialogue quite difficult. He does succeed with the musical score that he arranged and the jazz-like numbers add a great deal of mood to this feature. It's too bad the rest of the movie doesn't work as well. Some may like Figgis' approach in creating and shooting this film, but we found it too distracting and haphazard to really enjoy it. Thus, we give "One Night Stand" a 4 out of 10.

    There are several categories in this film that contain material many parents will probably find objectionable. The main character portrayed by Wesley Snipes smokes pot in many scenes and others do as well. There are several sexual encounters, including one with graphic movement as well as sexual dialogue and exaggerated sounds. Profanity is extreme with more than 20 "f" words. One of the characters is gay and is dying from AIDs, and there are several extramarital affairs that occur. While few preteens will want to see this film and it's questionable how many teens will, you should read through the content in case you or someone in your family wishes to see this film.

  • Some of Max's associates drink.
  • Max and Karen drink wine before and after a concert and then back at her hotel room.
  • Max and Mimi have a dinner party where people drink wine. Max then pulls out a joint and he and others smoke it. Mimi later tells him, "You're so stoned out of your mind."
  • Charlie (who's dying) tells Max, "Get me some really good pot." Max later returns with a huge joint, and Charlie and many others smoke it.
  • People drink at a party and Max smokes more pot.
  • None.
  • A knife wielding couple tries to rob Max and Karen.
  • Max and Karen, married to others, have an affair.
  • Max and Karen have sex and discover that Vernon and Mimi are having sex in the same room.
  • A knife wielding couple tries to rob Max and Karen and the man holds a knife to Max's throat. Max eventually elbows the guy and grabs the knife and the attacking couple flees.
  • Charlie's worsening physical appearance may be unsettling to some viewers.
  • Knife: Used by a man as he and woman try to rob Max and Karen.
  • Phrases: "Geez," "Bitch" (Mimi tells Max about their dog, "Maybe he smells another bitch on you"), "Kiss ass," and "Pissed."
  • Karen too easily invites Max up to her hotel room (so that he can change his shirt after his pen has leaked ink on it) without knowing anything about him.
  • Max gives "the finger" to someone as well as a gesture associated with male masturbation.
  • None.
  • Just one or two scenes have a little bit of suspenseful music in them.
  • None.
  • At least 21 "f" words (2 used sexually), 5 "s" words, 1 slang term for breasts, 2 hells, 2 asses, and 2 uses of "God" and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Oh my God" and "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • Max and Karen passionately kiss in her bed and he runs his hand down to her crotch. We then see her bare breasts (that he puts his hands on) as she climbs on top of him. We see just a little bit of movement and pleasured facial gestures and hear some sexual sounds.
  • Max returns home and Mimi puts her hand to his crotch and says that she misses "Mr. Puff n Stuff." She later climbs onto his lap (both are clothed) and starts moving her hips.
  • Max and Mimi have sex. While we don't see any nudity, we see quite a bit of movement as they have sex with him behind her, and then her on top of him. We also hear some sexual dialogue ("Harder...Oh yeah...I'm coming...Squeeze my breasts," etc...), other sounds and climaxing sounds.
  • Mimi mentions to Max that she bought a "Guide to Lovemaking" video and says, "Maybe we could try something new."
  • Max's friend says that he doesn't understand "the gay thing" and says that it's not natural for men to "grind away" at each other. Max then asks this man if he's ever kissed a man of if he'd "do anal sex." The man says he wouldn't, and then asks Max if he's ever kissed a man and he says that he has.
  • We see a partial and very brief glimpse of Charlie's butt as he's examined by doctors.
  • We see Mimi's bare breasts as she sleeps.
  • Max and Karen have sex standing up and we see some movement and hear some sounds. The two then look over and see Vernon between Mimi's legs (ie. They're having sex as well).
  • Some of Max's associates smoke and he goes to light up a cigarette himself, but a woman makes him stop (although she herself is smoking).
  • A guy who looks like Fidel Castro (at the U.N. nonetheless) smokes a cigar.
  • Karen and Max smoke in a bar and then later in her hotel room.
  • People smoke at a dinner party and at another party.
  • Max's affair puts a strain on his and Mimi's marriage.
  • Vernon must watch as his younger brother slowly dies from AIDs.
  • AIDs Robert Downey Jr. plays a man who's HIV positive and is dying of the disease.
  • Extramarital affairs.
  • A knife wielding couple tries to rob Max and Karen and the man holds a knife to Max's throat. Max eventually elbows the guy and grabs the knife and the attacking couple flees.
  • During a fight, Mimi slaps Max several times and he has to stop himself from hitting her back.

  • Reviewed October 24, 1997

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