Kiss Of Life


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If life is a series of disappointments, would a kiss revive it?

Helen (Ingeborga Dapkunaite) has reached crisis point. Her husband John (Peter Mullan) works for an UN aid agency and is always in some disaster zone thousands of miles away.

"I wait for you," she tells him. "You come back. We argue and then you go again."

Their teenage daughter (Millie Findlay) hates everything about home. She fights with her mum and younger brother (James E Martin) and hangs out with the rebel crowd at school. Helen can't cope and doesn't know that her son plays truant.

This is a family so in need of male influence, although Helen's father (David Warner), who lives with them, is as good as useless, spending his days in the shed at the bottom of the garden, resigned to a pre-Alzheimer's state of hermitic isolation.

What sounds like an exercise in despair has been transformed by superlative performances and an imaginative treatment by writer/director Emily Young.

Helen is knocked over on a zebra crossing by a hit-and-run driver and taken to hospital. The story of the marriage, Helen's hopes and wishes is told in flashback, flashforward, dreams and subconcious scenarios.

Meanwhile, John is making his way back home, through a war ravaged Baltic country, cadging lifts on lorries, having his money and papers stolen by armed men in makeshift uniforms, forever at the mercy of strangers, whose language he cannot speak.

The film is so well written that the magic realistic aspect of Helen's apparition in places where she could never be is acceptable as a plot device to dig deeper into the heart of this troubled relationship. Thanks to Dapkunaite and Mullan, you care a great deal for them.

It is not so much a kiss, as an accident, that heals these bruised emotions.

Reviewed on: 03 Jan 2004
Share this with others on...
Kiss Of Life packshot
An aid worker makes arduous trip out of Bosnia to be with long-suffering wife.
Amazon link

Director: Emily Young

Writer: Emily Young

Starring: Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Peter Mullan, Millie Findlay, Jams E. Martin, David Warner

Year: 2003

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/France


Search database: