What is love without the possibility of heartbreak?
Two Night Stand
Running time: 86 min.
Stars: Analeigh Tipton, Miles Teller, Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi)
Well for starters, Two Night Stand.
Mark Nichols’ directorial debut follows cinema’s tradition of movie romance: the main characters are two horny (and lonely) 20-somethings who connect through an online Tinder-esque website, meet up and engage in some classic no-strings-attached sex.
This tradition, equally enticing and infuriating, is paved by idealism instead of realism. Movies represent what love would and could be if emotions didn’t perpetually complicate matters.
But the increasingly salient issue at hand here is that the final destination of these romances are revealed the moment the opening credits begin to roll. Whether it’s Warner Bros. or 20th Century Fox, the moment you see a big studio attached, we know how the story will unfold.
Yes, the two (or more) people we’re about to see fall in love, and perhaps out of love, will surely fall back in love by the film’s duration.
These stories are incapable of ending on an upsetting, somber or even ambiguous note.
Which, brings me to my biggest contention with Two Night Stand: if we know that these two people, who become ensnared by an immovable snow storm, forcing them to talk instead of fornicate, will live happily ever after, where’s the tension?
In the case of Two Night Stand, the tension arises the morning after, when Megan (Analeigh Tipton) attempts to make a run for it while Alec (Miles Teller) is sound asleep. When Megan can’t escape from the comically severe storm, she’s forced to confront Alec, who makes the regrettable decision of calling last night a customary booty call.
He then proceeds to insinuate that Megan, striking and intelligent, may be a bit promiscuous. And so the confrontation begins.
Nichols puts forth a lot of fascinating concepts about modern romance: can two people really have no-strings-attached sex in the age of Facebook? Can one’s sexual preferences be vocalized after the deed is done?
In fact, the conversation Alec and Megan have in that first scene reveals a common occurrence in the 21st century: a man and a woman casually hookup, enjoy each other’s company and go their separate ways.
In the days following their laissez-faire rendezvous, someone — perhaps the man or a friend of that man — deems the woman a “slut” with “whorish” proclivities. The man’s carnal desires are scarcely questioned, with their ethics deemed virtuous.
The ubiquity of this double-standard is damning and damaging to the psyche of any sexually active woman, who must now — before she acts — consider how society may render her actions.
Two Night Stand scratches the surface of these topical issues, but not much else.
As the day goes on, Alec and Megan decide they should use their unusual predicament for self-improvement, to better themselves as lovers. Sexual hubris and insecurity is explored in equal doses — mostly to unsatisfying depths.
Unlike the early work of his father, Mike Nichols (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Graduate), Mike seems bound by the trappings of Hollywood. A more untethered version of this movie, entitled #Stuck (set to release on Oct. 10), exposes just how restricted Nichols is. Like the obstinate snow entrapping Alec and Megan, Nichols is held captive by eOne, the film’s distributor.
This is especially true when you consider the realities of romance. Part of every relationship is driven by the fear of things not working out. That what you have with someone, no matter how amorous the feelings, may not live forever.
For most, this is a terrifying concept to wrap the brain around.
Two Night Stand exists without that vital underlying uncertainty. It’s too cocksure and definitive to depict anything resembling our own experiences. And so what is projected onto the silver screen is almost alien in nature.
We see two people who appear human, playing the same game we all are. Except the plot twist isn’t that one character had a sex change operation or is an extraterrestrial, but that the rules every romance is confined by do not exist.
As a result, Two Night Stand is a foreign film without subtitles — a movie whose language is incomprehensible to anyone who has truthfully been involved.