Tonight You’re Mine Has Appeal for its Target Audience But for Few Else

Tonight You’re Mine is the tale of two rock musicians (Luke Treadaway and Natalia Tena) who happen to meet shortly after arriving for a huge, outdoor music festival. While displaying their instant and mutual dislike for each other an eccentric stranger handcuffs them together in order to make a point and teach them a lesson. Before anyone can stop him, the man quickly disappears, and despite attempts to free themselves the pair are stuck to each other’s side for the next twenty-four hours. Through thick and thin, performances and bathroom breaks, and even a night with their significant others in tow, the two manage to have a good time and even learn to like each other as they develop a natural attraction. That is until she discovers they didn’t have to stay attached for as long as he led her to believe. Was it a big joke to him, and is she really as upset about it as she seems? Or will they find a way back to each other before the end of the event? The ending is probably every wannabe-rocker-girl’s dream. However, I suspect it’s less than satisfying for the sincere musician, girl or boy.

The upside is that Tonight You’re Mine does an impressive job of capturing the unbridled energy of a massive, live event. Set amongst one of the largest outdoor festivals in the world, the film literally has a roaster of 100,000 ready-made background players who seem to flow freely about and around the main cast, giving the film a truly authentic atmosphere teeming with sex, drugs (drinking any way), and rock n’ roll. Director David Mackenzie uses documentary-like footage of the actual festivities to good effect. There are shots of throngs and hordes of people listening to music and generally milling about interspersed amongst the montage sequences of the hero and heroine as they participate in the festival. And lead actors Treadaway and Tena do a good job portraying the successful pop/rock star and the up-and-coming grunge rocker. Their respective personas feel authentic in every detail including their highly charged stage performances. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where the positive aspects of the film end.

Sadly, there are several aspects to the film that just don’t work, and the most important one is the implausible set up of the two leads being handcuffed. It’s not a bad concept, say for a screwball comedy. However, the actual implementation here (meaning the way it was captured on film) is extremely awkward and heavy-handed. I just don’t believe that no one couldn’t, or wouldn’t have stopped this oddball stranger who very slowly and meaningfully links the squabbling duo together as he makes a speech about the true meaning of music bringing people together. Nor do I think it’s realistic that not one of the other five people standing by had the ability to stop the guy from speeding away (in the mud) on a golf cart. And then there’s the fact that out of all the equipment used to put up the stages and fences, etc. for the festival, there’s nothing that can break the small link of a handcuff. There’s a very feeble attempt made (not once, but twice) to obtain bolt cutters. Neither failure is satisfactory. It seems only logical that someone involved with the location would have bolt cutters. It’s a basic need when dealing with temporary fencing, let alone any road crew.

Then there’s the moment when Treadaway indicates to his band buddy that he doesn’t want to be released from bondage, but we don’t know why. There’s no indication either way that he’s falling for Tena or just a schmuck messing with her. And the moment she discovers the truth seems very rushed and thrown together, like suddenly the filmmaker needed a complication to force the film to a final climax. And Treadaway’s creative plea for forgiveness lacks emotion and sincerity because of the lackluster editing. Here, the actor is not allowed to achieve his moment of inspiration, but rather appears to be delivering what’s called for in the script. Some of this could be due to the improvisational nature of the film (many of the supposedly intimate moments suffered from this). Lacking strong direction the actors are left to fend for themselves when what’s really needed is some solid guidance from either a completed script or a director with a solid vision. Some close ups of Treadaway during his thinking process would have helped too.

Ultimately the audience is robbed of an exciting ending that should have been generated by an “aha” moment like there is in When Harry Met Sally. Instead, Tonight You’re Mine just rushes together what’s suppose to be a cool rock n’ roll fairy tale ending. One that the heroine from the beginning of the film wouldn’t have liked, but now embraces like some kind of wannabe, grunge Cinderella. It might have worked, and could have worked if only it had been handled more gracefully. Although, I don’t suppose the target audience will mind very much. There are just enough elements of the festival itself to satisfy their entertainment needs. What bothers me is that I feel the film had far greater potential for appealing to a much broader audience. And by just doing what appears to be a “good enough” job, the filmmaker committed a disservice to himself and the audience that could have been.