Do you have a ‘one that got away?’ Your one love, that passionate romance, by which you judge all your subsequent relationships, consciously or not, no matter how far in the past, how deeply you’ve stashed it’s memory or suffocated its fire? I’m going with YES. And the truth that we all have one is an asset to THREE NIGHT STAND, an uneven and slightly confused indie about relationships, nostalgia and desire. Spotty and filled with far too much petty and childish attitude, it also contains some worthwhile scenes of brutally honest and well written dialogue. I am also willing to grant a handicap to the film and sheepishly admit that perhaps, being over…uh…forty, I may have conveniently forgotten the quality and tone of my own communication of my early relationships.
In order for a romantic dramedy to work we precious viewers have to believe that the couple has something to lose. The audience needs to see and feel what is at risk if things so south so that we can hook into the characters and have an emotional response. The primary problem with THREE NIGHT STAND is that our couple of focus, Carl, played by Sam Huntington, and Sue, brought to obnoxious juvenile life by Meaghan Rath, are not in any way a believable couple from the outset. They are so different it is impossible to conceive of what brought them together in the first place and what keeps them together, other than their threadbare and lifeless marriage. They are perpetually sniping at each other with no effort to disguise their irritation. Where is some love, some passion, a camaraderie that inspires Carl to finally buy Sue the engagement and wedding rings he couldn’t afford when they got married? I can tell you that it is certainly not in their sex life, the nature of which is demonstrated early on in a wildly uncomfortable, painfully awkward yet believable scene.
The romantic giving of the rings is set to take place in the idyllic setting at a romantic inn nestled in the wooded nordic ski country of Quebec. Never mind that Carl has a history at said inn and that he procured said ring set at a pawn shop, which perfectly summarizes the nature of his relationship. The cast and production is Canadian and, in spite of the film’s numerous dramatic flaws, there are some very good actors in the movie. I wish they had been given better material to work with. Carl and Sue begin to come unglued upon learning that the new owner of the inn is in fact Carl’s ex-lover Robin, going by the name of Ryan. Robin/Ryan is Carl’s one…whom he has never gotten over. It’s sticky to say the least and Carl handles things very poorly. He is defensive, in denial, and repeatedly makes stupid choices. While intellectually we feel for Sue, her childish outbursts and impulsive actions demolish any sympathy we might be able to muster for her no matter how legitimate her feelings. With the exception of Robin/Ryan played well by Emmanuelle Chriqui, all the characters behave like a bunch of petty, dishonest, whiny, critical teenagers.
THREE NIGHT STAND is erratic and jerky. There are conversations between the couples which are harsh yet realistic and they stand out starkly against the rest of the mediocre scrip. The motley crew of other inn guests gives some interesting contrast, and while the characters may be hard to believe they seem to work well enough to move the plot along. While the film fails to deliver an emotional punch, it does have some laughs, many of which are provided by Doug (Jonathan Cherry) who, while not exempt from the overall childish vibe of the cast as a whole, comes across as a young stoner Hank Azaria and he is a highlight of the production. The woodland scenery is lovely and the filmmakers use repeated shots of a tree lined snowy path wisely and judiciously to serve as a visual semi-colon and provide a pause in the bickering and allow the characters to pull themselves together. The film also gets credit for not falling back on a Disney-style neat and tidy ending and that is fortunate. THREE NIGHT STAND dares its viewers to take it seriously, at least much of the time, but it doesn’t take itself seriously, or know itself, and that is its biggest offense.(2 / 5)
Director: Pat Kiely
Cast: Sam Huntington, Meaghan Rath, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jonathan Cherry
Running Time: 86 minutes
Movie Review Three Night Stand