Max Carlyle (Wesley Snipes) is a commercial director from Los Angeles who is in New York to visit an old friend, Charlie (Robert Downey Jr.), who has been diagnosed with AIDS. While in town, a series of mishaps prevent him from making his flight back to LA, and a twist of fate unites him with another lost soul, Karen (Nastassja Kinski). Although both are married, one thing leads to another, and they end up in the titular One Night Stand.
Flash forward one year. Max's marriage to Mimi (Ming-Na Wen) is on the rocks, and Charlie is hovering near death. So, the Carlyles come to New York to be with Charlie during his last hours. However, in another twist of fate, Karen pops up again, making things very awkward for Max.
Obviously, the story is primarily concerned with Max and Karen's adulterous relationship. Unfortunately for the film, it's not a very interesting one. Perhaps the problem here is that Max and Karen are both such bland characters, it's hard to think of any situation involving them that would be remotely interesting.
In fact, the film's most dynamic relationship is Max's friendship with Charlie. Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Charlie is touching, if a bit cliched. At least, he is able to interject some emotion into this otherwise lifeless film.
The script, written by director Mike Figgis, lacks invention. The few plot twists it has are way too "cute", and you can see them coming from a mile away (especially the film's "shocking" final one).
The film is almost, but not quite, worth seeing on the basis of Robert Downey Jr.'s subplot. But the bland central storyline should be enough to keep everyone away.
[R - Strong sexuality, and for language] (New Line)