The Last Kiss
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Screenplay: Paul Haggis
Story: Gabriele Muccino
Producers: Andre Lamal, Gary Lucchesi, Marcus Viscidi, Tom Rosenberg
Starring: Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Casey Affleck, Rachel Bilson, Tom Wilkinson, Blythe Danner
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 115 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

by Andrew James
     Another case of misleading marketing. Walking into this film I was expecting a quirky, slightly darker comedy about entering middle age and the problems that come with it. Instead, I found a film about several characters who make poor choices in life and end up getting very depressed and depressing the people around them... including the audience. It's a film that looks at marital infidelity, parental (ir-)responsibility and just saying you're sorry. "The Last Kiss" is a great title however, after seeing the film and thinking about it's different, possible connotations within the contet of the storyline.

      Zach Braff stars as Michael in this remake of the 2001 Italian film, L'Ultimo bacio, in which he turns 30 to learn that his girlfriend of three years is pregnant. Obviously terrified, but unable or unwilling to admit or show it, Michael turns his feelings to a hot little number he meets at a friend's wedding reception (Rachel Bilson). His closest friends have marital problems as well, including his future in-laws, played by the always fantastic Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner. The story cuts back and forth from Michael's issues to those of his friends and in-laws. In this way, there really isn't one central character to focus on, as everyone has problems and all are given nearly equal screen time.

      The film is obviously targeting, deliberately or not, a very specific demographic: anyone aged 28-32. All of the main characters (aside from the one older couple) have their quirks, insecurities and problems, and each is close to, or has just recently, turned 30. The problems in their respective lives are believable and realistic. However, the fact that all of these four friends happen to have such extreme issues all happening at the same time is slightly unbelievable, albeit unfortunate, and therefore interesting to watch; although it became almost unbearable for me to endure for two hours.

      The only thing that really kept me involved in the story without getting too bored were the terrific performances by pretty much everyone involved. Braff is his usual witty self and really makes for a great character that I would love to be buddies with and I can empathize with... at least for the first half of the film. In the second half, he becomes much more serious and even downright mean. I had problems with this as it just didn't seem to fit his character or persona. Still, his mannerisms and facial expressions tell 1000 words and for at least the near future, I'm willing to see any project with his name attached to it.

      I've already mentioned Wilkinson and Danner as amazing; always have been and always will be. Rachel Bilson is the new-comer of the bunch, making her big-screen debut and doing an acceptable job. Her future is unforeseeable (always in motion is the future), but has definite potential with her natural good looks and the recent rumor of her snagging the role of Wonder Woman.

      The real break-out, and in my opinion, best performance was given by Jacinda Barret, playing Michael's pregnant girlfriend. Barret has also recently made the jump from TV to big screen a couple of years ago with The Human Stain and Ladder 49. Having seen neither of those movies or her television appearances, this was my first exposure to her and I was thoroughly impressed. Her ability to express a wide variety of emotion and make those emotions visible and gripping was something to behold. Maybe a bit of over-acting, but still expressive and impressive. I look forward to seeing more of her presence in the future.

      Being a recent graduate of the 20-something club myself, I am able to empathize with these people slightly. My life is not nearly in the shambles that these characters are, but I can still feel some of their sorrows, joys, regrets and fears for many of the same reasons. One of the side stories regarding the aforementioned in-laws felt to me like an after-thought. It seems to be thrown into the story only to entice and appeal to the fifty-something audience. It felt contrived and forced, although their story is essential to the over-all message or moral the film is trying to convey.

      Your enjoyment of The Last Kiss all stems from one simple thing: do you enjoy the actors involved and their delivery of their character or not (you probably will, even the un-likable ones). If not, you're in for a long, depressing story that never really resolves completely (although we can guess). And if so, it will be one of those uncomfortable films that you just can't tear your eyes away from because of the interestingness of the characters and their quirky ability to suck you into their sap story.

      Very obviously classifed into the chick-flick genre (bordering on anti-guy), The Last Kiss had enough charm and brilliant dialogue to have kept me involved and interested, maybe even enough to suck me into another viewing. Still, I was hoping for a bit more fun and less depression. The characters were all great and their stories slightly interesting, but really just more of soap opera-esque plot, re-hashed with great acting and original dialogue. This is probably not a film needing a big-screen viewing. A rental this winter should suffice and may even make it more enjoyable.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer

Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site