About Last Night… (1986)

About Last Night Movie of the Day

About Last Night… (1986)
Written by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue
Directed by Edward Zwick
Movie of the Day
Alphabet Movies – September 2019

“Bullshit. You don’t know what love is. You’ve gotten everything you have always wanted and now you’re feeling sorry for yourself because there’s something you want and you can’t have it. But you had it! I gave you love. But you asked me to leave and I left.”

Continuing with the new Movie of the Day Theme for September (and most likely beyond), and starting at the start of the alphabet (the first movie was a “number” title), today’s Movie of the Day is About Last Night… The 1986 version, not the remake which I still need to check-out, and most likely write about.

Please note, most (not all) of the Movie Of the Day posts will have spoilers, this post included. Spoilers ahead – be warned.

Moments of love, be them romantic, or heartbreaking, have been an often returned to theme in my writing, and is often part of the art I am attracted to. At times, I think it’s because I linger too long in the nostalgic gaze of missed opportunities, at other moments, though, I think that in the process of my own self-understanding those most vulnerable times – like falling in and out of love – are incredibly defining, and relatable.

Sometimes the definitions found on the screen (or page, song, canvas) are ones I would like to abandon on the side of the road. I’ve had more than my share of those “hide my eyes, cringe-worthy encounters” that I run through my head, over and over, on insomnia-nights. 3am, staring at the non-existent stars on my ceiling, replaying mishaps, mistakes, and missed chances from the page of my life.

We all have those kinds of memories, don’t we? The ones we wish we could turn back, record over, erase, and rewind?

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I’ve had some breathtaking, beautiful times, too. A few so precious that I’ve not written about them all that often. Instead, I’ve held them inside, clinging internally to their memory, because some moments words fail at expressing – enough.

There are plenty of in-between recollections, too. Even in those encounters, though, I still have found pieces of myself tucked within. I’ve still learned something from them.

Movies about love are like that, too. They span the spectrum of breathtaking to heartbreaking – and to the sometimes forgotten middle-ground. And no matter how sometimes dated, or eye-rolling unrealistic, the “rom-com” genre of movies can be, well, the truth of the matter is, I can’t quit the love story, no matter how many knockouts and leave-behinds I’ve faced, and no matter how jaded my life says I should be, I still remain a hopeless romantic inside.

Perusing my long list of favorite movies for this alphabet project it’s become clear that stories about love, whether dramatic, tragic, funny, or “dramedy” like, just get me every, single time. And I get them right back.

So, back to the A-B-C’s of my favorite movies. Back to the letter “A”, which one of my favorite flawed love story movies starts with – About Last Night…

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About Last Night… is based on a play from the ’70s by David Mamet, originally titled Sexual Perversity in Chicago. Back in my first stint at college I auditioned for the play but was cast in a different play from the ’70s, one that is actually a film, as well, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

The movie version, About Last Night…, was directed by Edward Zwick, who would go on to produce some of my all-time favorite television series (My So-Called Life, Relativity, Once & Again). It starred Demi Moore and Rob Lowe as two twenty-somethings embarking on their first experience with “living together” with someone.

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My “first time” with this film was when I was too young to realize what “living together” entailed. I’ll admit it was Rob Lowe’s looks, and Demi’s style and previous roles that drew me in. Watching it that first time, I believed in their story, and I rooted for a happy ending for them. When the credits rolled, that “first time”  was let down by the uncertainty that the film left me with. I left the theater wanting more of their story, wanting to see Danny and Debbie back together, not just the “seeing each other again” scene the movie left us with.

I know now the open-ended ending was intentional, just as much as I know that I’ve replayed that ending and wrote, and re-wrote follow-up scenes for Debbie and Danny during some of my sleepless nights – just like I’ve re-wrote my own missed opportunity conversations and “what if’s” of my own life when in insomnia’s midst.

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The second time I remember seeing this film was after a not so open-ended ending of my own first “living together” relationship. We had rushed into things, much like Debbie and Danny did, though I think the odds were more in their favor than they ever were for me and mine. We did try to play house though, attempting to recreate our versions of holidays and everyday life, failing more often than not. His best friend was more supportive of me, though, and my best friend, well, she liked him at first, and then changed her mind when she saw the tell-tale unhappiness in my eyes.

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We did have our own “see each other again” moment, too. A few of them, actually, and twice we tried to make the moment a “meant to be” kind of thing. We broke and got back together more times than I can count on both hands, each time determined to make it work, and each time having absolutely no fucking clue how.

We had a baby together and that sure didn’t help things. We went to couple’s therapy, and he slept with the therapist (still not helping). We tried the Cosmo paged advice of living out each other’s fantasy, even inviting someone else to be in the picture with us, but that backfired, too. She led me away, mesmerized, having no use for him. The reality shattered what shreds were left of us, and we had to finally reach a finality, conclude that we were never meant to be and that this was a first time that was not meant to be a forever time.

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No one rooted for us to reconcile, not even us. But, even now when I re-watch About Last Night…, I still do root for Debbie and Danny to reconcile. They made some mistakes, but none of them were fatal, none of them couldn’t be worked through. I still watch and believe in them, and yes, I still think Rob Lowe is a beauty, and Demi is iconic and breathtaking. And, in my mind at least, they wind up back together.

What do you think?

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“I think I thought it was going to be different than it...” ~ Danny
than what it was really like? Me, too. Maybe we were just – too naive.” ~ Debbie
Yeah, maybe. Maybe we knew too much.” ~ Debbie

“Living Inside My Heart” by Bob Seger

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