- Associated Press - Thursday, October 28, 2010

ROME (AP) - The marital drama “Last Night” deals with questions of temptation, betrayal and defining infidelity, and its stars Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes said Thursday there are no easy answers.

The movie is about a married couple _ young, beautiful, successful _ struggling to confront temptation: For Knightley’s character it’s an old, never-quite-forgotten French love; for her husband, played by “Avatar” star Sam Worthington, it’s a seductive work colleague played by Mendes.

Their moral struggle plays out over the course of one night they spend apart, on the backdrop of hotel bars and trendy New York apartments.

“Last Night” opened the Rome Film Festival but organizers scrapped the red carpet ceremony for the movie Thursday as hundreds of actors, directors, screenwriters and other workers of the Italian movie industry staged a protest on the red carpet. The high-profile stunt was part of an ongoing dispute, with the workers protesting funding cuts to the culture sector by the government.

“Culture is a right,” read one banner, “The credits are about people who work,” said another.

In a press conference earlier in the day, Knightley said the movie doesn’t take a view on whether one is worse _ physical infidelity or an unconsummated but highly emotional affair _ and that she could not say.

“We discussed that a lot,” the British actress told reporters in the Italian capital.

“Sometimes I went into it thinking the mental infidelity was worse, then we’re shooting and I think, ‘No, No, the physical’s much worse,” she told reporters. “I come out and I have no idea.”

The actress said the movie “provokes discussion” and credits it for not taking a moral standpoint or tell the viewers what to think. “This is a film that requires the audience to make their own minds up,” she said, adding that all people at one point in their lives have faced the scenarios the characters find themselves in.

Director Massy Tadjedin said whatever opinion one forms of the movie’s central dilemmas and its characters “depends largely on your definition of infidelity” and that “hopefully in the film we don’t try to judge.”

In the movie, which was also recently shown at the Toronto Film Festival, Worthington’s character Michael finds himself on a business trip with the colleague he is attracted to, and who is attracted to him. Mendes said she played the tempting co-worker, Laura, without making her an obvious sexual target, so not to demean or take away from the man’s struggle. Meanwhile in New York, Knightley’s Joanna runs into Alex, a French writer who is in town for business, and who is also the past love she has given up but always kept secret from her husband.

All relationships are different, said Mendes, and there are a lot of gray areas.

“It’s too black and white to say, ‘No, this is worse than that,’” Mendes said. “Maybe something that’s acceptable in your teens or 20s is unacceptable in your 30s or 40s.”

“It’s really circumstantial,” she said.

“Last night” also stars Guillaume Canet as Knightley’s past flame to complete a diverse cast that includes an American, Mendes, the Australian-raised Worthington and a Briton, Knightley. Tadjedin says she chose New York because it is a place where the diverse characters could come together.