A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
“One Night Stand” is work in a minor key from Mike Figgis, whose previous film was the symphonic “Leaving Las Vegas.” The romance this time is lighter and more cheerful, but the result is peculiar: I liked almost everything about the film except for the central relationship, which struck me as just an excuse for everything else.
The story opens with a Meet Cute. Max (Wesley Snipes), a director of TV commercials, misses his flight out of New York. There are no rooms left when he returns to his hotel. Sitting in the lobby, he's told by a pretty blond (Nastassja Kinski) that his pen is leaking. They attend a chamber music concert, she touches his shoulder as the music weaves a romantic mood, she lets him use the extra bed in her room, and soon the extra bed is not required.
Max was in New York to visit his best friend Charlie (Robert Downey Jr.), who is HIV-positive. He returns to Los Angeles and his wife Mimi (Ming-Na Wen), his children, and the family dog, who growls softly while sniffing his crotch. You can't fool a dog. One year passes. Read no further unless you want to know that Charlie is in the hospital with weeks to live. Max flies back to New York, meets Charlie's brother Vernon (Kyle MacLachlan) and his wife Karen--who is, of course, Kinski.
That's the set-up. The central question would seem to be, how do Max and Karen handle this embarrassing development? The two adulterers go through the motions required by movie convention (“As far as I'm concerned,” Karen says, “nothing happened”). And eventually all of the romantic problems are sorted out. But I didn't much care, because the real interest in the film is not the relationship between Max and Karen, and the Karen character is so underwritten that Kinski has to create it mostly out of surfaces and body language. I did find myself caring about Charlie, the best friend with AIDS, who is played by Downey as a man determined not to go solemnly into that great night. He has a sense of humor even on his deathbed, and gets one of the movie's best laughs just by raising his eyebrows. I liked him, and I also liked the character of Max's wife Mimi, who is written with much more detail than the Kinski character, and played by Ming-Na Wen as smart, observant, fiery and extremely clear about what she likes in bed.