September 17, 2006

Movie Review: The Last Kiss

The Last Kiss is a very good movie. Is it original? Not really. Is it insightful? Not any more than other movies like this. Then how can it be very good? I don't know. What I do know is that for the entire running time, I was engrossed in this film. It told a good story, giving us a group of people all reaching critical points in their lives. They are on the cusp of true adulthood. They are outgrowing their young adulthood, and it scares the hell out of them.

Faced with a life with no more surprises, Michael (Zach Braff) is fearing for his future. His girlfriend of three years, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) is pregnant with their first child and is seeking to buy a home together. This scares Michael to no end, he doesn't know what to do as he approaches this crossroad. Does he have the strength to make the commitment necessary for having a family? This crisis of self couldn't have come at a better time, as he is confronted with a pretty young college girl, Kim (Rachel Bilson), at a friend's wedding, who develops a near immediate crush on him. Sensing his crisis, she immediately springs to fill the void that has formed. Not necessarily for any malicious intent, but perhaps to fill a void that she has been feeling, and sensing that potential bond, sought to have it filled.

Michael's friends aren't of any help as they are all having their own issues. Four friends, each in a crisis. All of them desperately clinging to their freedom, unwilling to make the final transition to adulthood. Izzy's (Michael Weston) life is in a shambles as the love of his life has abruptly dumped him, leaving him a shell seeking to run off to Mexico to start over. Then there is Chris (Casey Affleck), who, along with his wife, Lisa, thought that having child would help to strengthen their relationship, but their son has driven a bigger wedge between the two. Finally we have Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen), a bar tending, babe bedding adolescent who finds his female counterpart and bolts at the thought of settling down. So, as you can see, none of them are terribly well suited to assist Michael in his crisis. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, Jenna's parents are also having a crisis, as Mom (Blythe Danner) is tiring of Dad's (Tom Wilkinson) lack of attention, and leaves after admitting to an affair. So even the adults are having problems in this movie.

There is no new insight to be gleaned from The Last Kiss. The message of doing whatever it takes, and making a choice, and doing right by the ones you say you love rather than just saying empty words, is all well and good, but it is the execution that works so well. The various crises all weave together to create a sense of doom, with a layer of hope as they all come to decisions regarding their future, whether it be leaving it behind in favor of a new start, or staying and looking for a more definitive answer.

Zach Braff anchors the film behind his low key performance. He does a fine job of playing the everyman that the male audience members can identify with, while not rehashing his character from Garden State. The movie does not play out all that realistically, as Michael and his friends are crammed into to many plot contrivances and the fact that all of these issues come to a head at the same time is a bit unbelievable. But, I don't go to the movies for realism, realism is boring. Braff and his buddies breathe a life into this and make it work for them. I particularly liked the convergence of crisis between Micheal and Jenna and that of Jenna's parents, as they come together at just the right moment, a case of convenient synchonicity.

The movie was directed by Tony Goldwyn, whos style is unobtrusive as he lets his actors do the work, as it should be in this type of film. It was written by Paul Haggis, based on Gabrielle Muccino's script for the Italian film, L'ultimo bacio.

Bottomline. A lyrical film that plays like a depressing ballad that simultaneously lifts the spirit with its understated hope for a brighter future. This was a good film that satisfies on a few levels, providing sadness and laughter, with a touch of cynicism.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Post a Comment