Kiss Me Again

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Following on ten years later from The Last Kiss, Gabriele Muccino has returned to its characters, mostly played by the same actors, to see what is happening in their lives. This is a treat for fans of the original film, whilst newcomers will find that it's not difficult to join the story at this point, for all that it may seem a bit directionless. That's part of the point. This is the Italian version of the slacker movie, though propelled by rather more energy than its American equivalent.

Despite the fact that most of their lives are going nowhere, these are mostly engaging, appealing characters. Despite the fact that they go through a lot of suffering, much of it of their own making, this is a heartwarming film. It's very open emotionally which plunges us straight into their lives as if we had recently joined a new group of friends. We might not altogether like all of them but we can see how they fit together, how the ongoing interplay of their lives makes sense.

It is 2010. Adriano (Giorgio Pasotti) has just been released from prison after serving ten years for drug possession. His friends are determined to help him get back on his feet and reconnect with the son he last saw as an infant, but matters are complicated by the fact that Paulo (Claudio Santamaria) has fallen in love with his ex-wife. Paulo's life is in turn complicated by depression. Also suffering from stress is Carlo (Stefano Accorsi) who may have serious health problems and who is now dating a woman half his age but seems to be on the verge of falling back into a relationship with the mother of his daughter - the heroine of the first film, who now lives with an actor. Meanwhile, Marco (Pierfrancesco Favino) fears his wife is about to betray him, and the women meet at intervals to discuss their despair at the behaviour of the men.

This is clearly soap opera territory, so why bother to see it on the big screen? For one thing, because it's beautifully made, with slick production values and gorgeous cinematography. For another, because the solid performances make these characters into people we can believe in. Furthermore, it would be unfair to suggest that this film has nothing to say. In the tradition of Italian realism, like a modern Le Amiche, it uses the observation of apparently trivial incidents as a means whereby to tackle sweeping themes about social change, parenthood, and conflict between men and women. To a large extent it is a study of how masculinity is changing in modern Italy, with Marco suffering because of his attachment to traditional values whilst Carlo and Adriano are discovering new pleasures as devoted fathers. Yet there is no overt moral message here - life, it reminds us, can throw a lot of shit at you no matter how you choose to conduct yourself.

Energetic and easy to like, Kiss Me Again offers no easy solutions to its characters' problems but reminds us that life can be worth the effort for its own sake.

Reviewed on: 07 Apr 2011
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A group of friends, previously seen in The Last Kiss, struggle with romantic complications and parenthood.
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Director: Gabriele Muccino

Writer: Gabriele Muccino

Starring: Stefano Accorsi, Vittoria Puccini, Pierfrancesco Favino, Claudio Santamaria, Giorgio Pasotti, Sabrina Impacciatore, Daniela Piazza

Year: 2010

Runtime: 139 minutes

Country: Italy

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