Best & Worst: Keira Knightley

Best: Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Knightley’s first pairing with debut feature director Joe Wright earned her an Oscar nomination (her only so far), and it’s not hard to see why.

As Elizabeth Bennet, Keira adds fire and feistiness to what could easily have become a limp new adaptation of Jane Austen’s much-adapted book. Under the breezy direction of Wright, she stirs loin-warming chemistry with Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr Darcy, meaning her Elizabeth has become the defining portrayal to a generation of movie-goers.

Last Night (2010)

“This is a really bad connection,” says Joanna (Keira Knightley). “I know,” responds husband Michael (Sam Worthington). They’re talking about a phone link, but the exchange also nods to the sticky subtext of their rocky marriage, which is put to the test in this absorbing, slow-drip deep-thinker that’s obsessed with that most infuriating of questions, ‘What if?’

During a night out at a work party, Jo meets Michael’s attractive co-worker Laura (Eva Mendes) and suspects there’s something going on between them. Then, when Michael’s out of town on business with Laura, Jo bumps into old flame Alex (Guillaume Canet), and finds herself seriously tempted.

Ebbing with an affecting melancholy, Last Night offers Knightley her most grown-up role to date, the actress’ recent forays into theatre evident in her impressively layered performance. Mendes, meanwhile, is nothing short of mesmeric – when she’s in a room alone with crush-object Worthington, Last Night becomes electric with tension. As inactivity sashays ever-closer to devastating activity, writer Massy Tadjedin’s directorial debut takes on a quiet power that will speak to anybody who’s been tempted while in a relationship. True, Last Night’s dreamy pacing may prove too languorous for some, but as an intimate, thoughtful examination of relationships, it’s hauntingly effective. 3/5

Via Out In The City.