Kiss Me

Kiss Me

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Neil Mitchell

After positive notices from the Toronto and London LGBT Film Festivals, Alexandre-Therese Keining's Kiss Me (Kyss Mig), released in the US as With Every Heartbeat after the Robyn track that appears in the film, comes to DVD on July 23rd. Keining's second feature length film, after 2002's little seen Hot Dog, Kiss Me is a largely impressively realised relationship drama that eventually succumbs to a sugar coated resolution in keeping with the film's overall chocolate box aesthetic. Up until that point, Kiss Me is a well controlled representation of a burgeoning lesbian affair and the repercussions it has on the existing relationships of the lovers in question. Resembling a glossy, respectable middle class BBC drama but one undercut by an air of awkward tension, familial angst and buried emotions, Kiss Me bears some resemblance to Joanna Hogg's Unrelated and Archipelago.

The central figures in Kiss Me's narratively muddied waters - Mia (Ruth Vega Fernandez) and Frida (Liv Mjönes) – meet for the first time at the engagement party of Mia's father Lasse (Krister Henriksson) and Frida's mother Elizabeth (Lena Endre). The instant attraction between the pair is complicated further by Mia's own announcement of her engagement to Tim (Joakim Nätterqvist) and Frida's affectionate relationship with Mia's brother, Oskar (Tom Ljungman). Opposites both visually and in terms of personality – Mia a highly strung, brooding brunette and Frida a freewheeling, ebullient blonde (herself one half of a troubled couple) – the pair are inexorably drawn to each other, first out of curiosity and then out of lust, when seconded away on a holiday retreat island with only Elizabeth for company.

Copy picture

Keining, who also wrote the screenplay, handles what is in essence a tabloid-friendly narrative with considerable, restrained aplomb, aided by superior performances throughout from the cast. The inevitable sparks that fly once the nature of Mia and Frida's relationship comes to the surface, which inevitably reveals Mia's true sexual orientation, strips away the veneer of happy stability in three households. Familial issues, buried resentments, chequered personal histories and future aspirations arise and are painfully thrown back and forth between the hurt, their infidelitous partners and the respective family members.

There's a straightforward, painful honesty to much of Kiss Me's narrative, with the lesbian love affair handled in unsentimental fashion. These characters are three dimensional people with attractive qualities, real emotions and, crucially, the insecurities and foibles that all of us possess. That makes the denouement all the more disappointing, as all the hard work Keining and her cast have put into making Kiss Me the engrossing human drama that it is is undermined by a climax familiar from the standard Hollywood romantic drama/comedy.

It's a needless capitulation to the conventions of the genre, where a more ambiguous ending would have been truer to the story as a whole. Far from resolving the preceding events in a satisfactory manner, the final moments of Kiss Me raise doubts over the sincerity and verisimilitude of what has gone before it. By concluding the film in such cliched fashion, Keining ultimately does her own writing, the cast, the viewer and the characters themselves a great disservice.

Reviewed on: 22 Jul 2012
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Kiss Me packshot
Mia and Frida begin a relationship which will turn the world upside-down for their friends and family.

Product Code: B007VNXDUI

Region: 2

Extras: None

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