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'The Last Kiss' is a beautiful Italian film, a romantic comedy and drama
told in multiple storylines reminiscent of 'Magnolia' or 'Short Cuts'. It
is one of the best films ever to deal with twenty-something males who
haven't really grown up and accepted the responsibility of an adult life,
and also about the women who have to deal with them. Most of the men in
this film have commitment-phobia. Babies are being had, weddings are taking
place, apartments are being purchased, but all these men can think about is
escape. They are planning on buying a beat up old van and traveling the
world in search of an adventure. Anything will do, as long as it doesn't
involve growing up, becoming an adult and assuming responsibility for the
direction of their lives and relationships.
It sounds weighty and significant. Perhaps it is. But the movie is so effortless, lighthearted, energetic and funny that time seems to fly by. It is one of the most entertaining films of the year. It's no wonder that 'The Last Kiss' won so many Audience Awards at film festivals in 2002, including at Sundance. The film also became one of the biggest box office successes in European cinema history. This film, which Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called "Sex in the City with men", garnered tons of 3½ and 4 star reviews, hit dozens of Top Ten Lists, and will easily become a favorite for those who are lucky enough to see it.
The performances are all stellar. The primary couple in the film, supremely played by Stefano Accorsi (Carlo) and Giovanna Mezzogiorno (Giulia), are fascinating to watch. They are emotionally polar opposites at different stages in their lives. The film builds around this couple and the explosive crescendo that seems imminent from the opening scenes. Carlo is immature and irresponsible. Giulia is calm, methodical and assured in her wants and needs. She loves Carlo, despite his flaws, but tells him that the one thing she won't abide is infidelity. Needless to say, the temptations present themselves during the film and we get to watch one of the most explosive arguments in the history of cinema as Giulia has a melt down when she finds out the truth.
The film dances around to other storylines from time to time, but it always returns to the central couple. All the other vignettes are interesting but serve primarily as breathers and changes-of-pace. You won't be as invested in those characters as you will be with Carlo and Giulia. Giovanna Mezzogiorno is spectacular here. She bounces effortlessly between calm and rage, trust and jealousy, romantic and pragmatic. It is one of the best performances of the decade. Special note must also be given to a new Italian starlet named Martina Stella, who is vibrant and mesmerizing as the object of Carlo's lust. She plays a love-struck young girl named Francesca, who is so painfully unaware of life's cruel hardships and realities. Her naiveté and wide-eyed innocence makes it easy for us to understand why Carlo might stray. Martina Stella is a wonderful new talent that we should keep our eyes on over the next few years.
I pointed out the structural similarity to Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 masterpiece, 'Magnolia'. However, there is more than just a passing resemblance. 'The Last Kiss' is obviously inspired by it's predecessor. It looks and sounds a great deal like that classic. The camera movement is energetic and dynamic. There are a ton of complex 'steadicam' scenes. The score is that anticipatory and frenetic string ensemble that allows us to flow from moment to moment as the editing shifts us from one storyline to another. In fact, the scores are so similar that I initially thought it had been borrowed. The way I see things, if you are going to emulate a film, you can't do much better than emulating 'Magnolia'.
This film has the ability to make you laugh and cry with the absolute recognition of your own life . There are so many scenes that will hit home. Virtually every viewer over the age of 25 will be able to see themselves, at some point in their life, manifested in one of these characters. It is a witty and observant script that deals truthfully and hysterically with the complexities of modern relationships. I think that is the main reason it has become a fan favorite.
The cinematography and lighting are first rate. These stunningly gorgeous Italian thespians are made even more resplendent than previously imaginable. Gabriele Muccino directs the film and seems to make every single shot count. You could take any still-frame from this movie and have a photograph to hang in an art gallery.
I've already mentioned the wonderful score, but I would also like to point out another lovely sound in this film... the Italian language. Never before have so many words been crammed into a two hour movie. It is a lovely language to behold. It sounds beautiful whether it is being whispered or screamed. I know it may seem a little meaningless to state such a thing, but I believe that a great film can be enjoyed with either the sound or the picture off. This film assuredly looks gorgeous, but it sounds even better!
There are many things to love about this film. Giovanna Mezzogiorno's performance is miraculous. The stories are poignantly truthful. The character arcs are rich and full and complete. The technical aspects of the film are immaculate. The resolution is satisfying and honest. You will cringe, you will laugh, you will be joyous and angry... this movie will take you on an emotional roller-coaster. You will almost feel Italian (If you aren't already). And the final few moments of the film will leave you smirking to yourself as you contemplate the resounding irony of it all. How cruel these directors can be!
'The Last Kiss' (L'Ultimo Bacio) is easily one of the best films of the year. I suggest you make a special effort to seek this film out... you won't regret it.
"L'Ultimo Bacio" is probably a movie most men will recognize themselves
in all too well, because it was based on what most of us actually feel
when they are finally expected to grow up when they are around thirty.
They are expected to settle, to get married and to start a family. All
very important decisions and we never feel very comfortable making
them. Do we want to give up life as an irresponsible "bachelor", will
we try to spend the rest of our lives with only one woman, are we ready
to raise kids...
If you expect any answers from this movie, than I'll have to disappoint you, because you won't really find any good ones. It shows how four male friends desperately try to be free. One of them meets an 18-year old schoolgirl at a wedding party, falls in love with her and betrays his pregnant fiancée, jeopardizing his entire future and family. One of the others only fights with his wife, the third one wants to escape form his dying father and the last one wants to keep living as a hippie. They all have their reasons to leave their actual lives and they start making plans to make a trip around the world, but will they leave or finally accept the real life...
In a way this is a very typical Italian movie. Personally I love that, but I guess there are several people who don't. The style, the music, the acting, it all can be found in similar Italian movies and less in other European productions. So if you absolutely hate Italian movies, than you better don't even start watching it. In my opinion this isn't a movie for very young people either. I'm not saying they shouldn't watch it, but I think an 18-year old probably can't understand all too well why it's so difficult to make that important step once you're thirty, just because he or she doesn't have to think about it yet. Being almost 27 myself, I know all too well, what it means.
All in all this is a very nice movie that I would recommend to most people. Despite what you might think this isn't a very corny movie and has absolutely nothing to do with how most Hollywood comedies with such a message would look like. It's wonderful, it's realistic, it's everything I need in a movie and that's why I give it an 8/10.
Carlos (Stefano Accorsi) is a twenty-nine years old man, who works in
an advertisement agency and has been living with his girlfriend Giulia
(Giovanna Mezzogiorno) for three years. When she gets pregnant and he
meets the delicious eighteen years old Francesca (Martina Stella), his
relationship with Giulia have a crisis, since he is not ready to reach
adulthood. Francesca has a crush and dreams on Carlos. His three best
friends have also problems with their mates: Adriano (Giorgio Pasotti)
has just had a son and has problems to take the responsibilities of the
fatherhood, while his wife Livia (Sabrina Impacciatory) becomes very
connected to the baby, neglecting their marriage; Alberto (Marco Cocci)
has no ties with any woman, limiting to use them sexually; and Paolo
(Claudio Santamaria) has a passion for his former lover. Meanwhile,
Giulia's mother, Anna Stefania Sandrelli), has a middle-age crisis,
jeopardizing her marriage. "L'Ultimo Bacio" is a beautiful and
delightful movie about relationship in different phases of life. The
story is very intelligent and realistic, reaching characters of
different ages to show the crisis that most of the persons pass along
their lives in their relationship with their mates. Whose teenager has
never had a passion for a man or woman, like the character of
Francesca? And the doubts and insecurity about fatherhood or
motherhood, like Carlos, Giulia, Adriano and Livia? And the love
jealousy, like Paolo? And the middle age crisis, like Anna? Therefore,
the story certainly catch a phase in the life of the viewer himself or
herself, and he or she will certainly identify the situation of a
character as his or her own. The beauties of Giovanna Mezzogiorno, with
her magnificent blue eyes, and Martina Stella, with her wonderful body
and look, are another attraction in this lovely and highly recommended
movie. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "O Último Beijo" ("The Last Kiss")
[s p o i l e r s]
You have to admit there's much that's life affirming and technically accomplished in Gabriele Muccino's movies about superficial Italians coupling and uncoupling. His scenes never stop moving, and his camera has learned to keep up with the flow. Undoubtedly his most polished effort so far is L'ultimo bacio (The Last Kiss). A box office success in Italy and abroad (though not a critical one), The Last Kiss is a splendid operatic swirl of melodramatic ensemble acting and liquid editing. Its succession of slick, fast-talking, emotional roller coaster scenes is a beautiful thing to watch. It's got irresistible rhythm if you don't mind that the high energy leads to an awful lot of yelling. The episodic structure and musical links may owe something to P.T. Anderson's Magnolia; but this is Italy and it all works differently. It isn't about anomie and chance encounters: everyone's connected. The Last Kiss is a well-oiled machine with jaw-dropping energy.
Its action is so lively, its motion so perpetual, you may fail to notice what a stagnant society The Last Kiss represents - how complacent the characters and their creator are. The way they buckle down and accept the mind-numbing `comforts' and intellectual limitations of Berlusconi's Italy. It's a place they all seem destined to accept as the best of all possible worlds.
The Last Kiss revolves (almost literally: the steadicam pans from scene to scene while operatic music swims across the transitions) around five young men about to turn thirty in a provincial town. At the center is Carlo (Stefano Accorsi). His fiancée Giulia (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) is pregnant and he can't face the prospect of a wife, a child, and a house. He's not ready to grow up. Most of Carlo's buddies have the same problem. Paolo (Claudio Santamaria) goes through the death of his father right after he's had an angry breakup with his girlfriend, and he can't face going into the family religious object business. The mercurial Adriano (Giorgio Casotti) has a young child and a ball-buster wife (Livia, Sabrina Impacciatore) and these challenges have him fed up with his marriage and ready to leave it. Alberto (Marco Cocci), a dreadlocked, joint-smoking Greenpeace hippy, amuses himself seeing how many women will jump into bed with him; he's a sciupafemmine, a Don Juan who chews them up and spits them out: marriage is not on his horizon.
But Marco (Pierfrancesco Favino) is getting married: he's buying into the normal life. Marco's four friends are all at Marco's wedding, and it's there that Carlo meets Francesca (Martina Stella), a tantalizingly delicious blonde schoolgirl who successfully puts the make on him. Meanwhile Giulia's mother Anna (a simpatica Stefania Sandrelli) is fed up with her taciturn psychiatrist husband Emilio (Luigi Emilio) and goes through her own period of rebellion, trying to revive an affair of three years ago with a college professor (Sergio Castellitto).
Carlo gets his wild night with Francesca, his `last kiss' which turns into more than that after Giulia finds out and they have a big fight (where the movie's yell-fest reaches fortissimo). He runs back and sleeps with the 18-year old, and then spends the rest of the movie trying to patch things up and get his life back on its track. Meanwhile Adriano, Alberto, and Paolo are planning to run off to Africa, or somewhere-an escape that's really a last fling: but their whole series of tantrums and complaints are background noise, an obligato to the main themes. The focus is on Giulia's mother, Adriano, and Carlo. Where the movie is really headed for its finale is to Carlo and Giulia reuniting, and a soothing voiceover from Carlo about how nice it will be to have grass and a suburban house and kids. . .and all the rest, and the two of them are reconciled at her parents' house where Anna is back with her father. It seems that Adriano really has left his wife, for a while anyway, but that subject is dropped.
Closely examined, despite its Magnolia-like intercutting of related subplots, its splendid cast and beautiful look, The Last Kiss reveals a worldview that's numbingly vapid. Its young men on the verge of thirty and one older woman in revolt against the ordinary paths they've chosen only play at escape: the final sequence is a corny affirmation of comfortable bourgeois family life, big house, big car, perfect bambini. Anna is back with Giulia's father. Her little revolt is over.
What is the theme that unifies Muccino's movies? Is it coming of age, as in Come te nessuno mai, or is it playing at revolution, as in that same rather charming first film about high schoolers staging a Sixties-style strike while what the boys really want is only to get laid? If Come te is Muccino's freshest and most unassuming effort, Ricordati di me, his most recent one, is his cheesiest: again, a swirl of stories about individuals in a family who are all in revolt against their lives - and come back to conventionality at the end - but with much tackier subplots. He's made a trilogy: (1) first sex, (2) last infidelity before marriage, (3) first infidelity after, with being aTV go-go dancer treated as a viable life choice. The theme is simply: revolt a little, it'll make you feel better. `Normality is the true revolution.'
Italians who remember the great directors of the past shake their heads at such stuff. The idea that all temptations to rebel end in a little reconciliation is complacent even for TV sitcoms. It's as if Muccino has all this promise as a filmmaker - he can orchestrate his subplots in such an entertaining way and the editing is inspired - he's a real Robert Altman with a Tuscan accent - but his head is too empty; there's no there there.
Muccino's characters, for all their charm and good looks, are pretty silly people. Carlo, Last Kiss's main character, is attractive in his way but his shit-faced grin palls: he's an airhead to be tempted by Francesca, the blonde Lolita, because she's an airhead too, just a pretty schoolgirl who confuses wanting to get laid with finding the love of her life. There's no edge to the temptation, because Francesca's pull on Carlo was so superficial. It's lively and glossy and it has moments of flirting with satire and farce, the sheer energy of it can be lots of fun to watch, but when you get down to it, Last Kiss is on the level of a TV sitcom. In fact American cable network dramas arguably go deeper than this. Is Muccino the best that mainstream Italian cinema can now produce? Let's hope not.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Warning: Ending revealed & discussed.
I enjoy foreign films and prefer original movies to their remakes. I really dislike when foreign films are remade for American audiences and changed (usually sugarcoated, with a happy ending tacked on). I loathe this need to pander to our sentimentalism and our refusal to accept more "realistic" films.
However, after seeing this film, I'm curious to see the American remake of this film to see if it's sensibilities are more in line with my tastes. Maybe I'm being unrealistic in thinking American guys wouldn't have quite the same reactions.
I was looking forward to these 30-something characters exploring/struggling with what it meant to be in a relationship. However I didn't like any of the characters. The women barely existed except as foils for the male characters. They were one-dimensional. All of them were portrayed as wanting nothing more than a marriage and kids. They were shown as jealous, shrew-like and clingy/dependent. The men on the other hand (with one happily married exception who was barely shown, and one unhappily obsessed w/ his ex) were shown as feeling trapped by women/relationships.
I really disliked the main storyline of the guy who is about to have a child with his girlfriend and yet suddenly decides he needs to screw a high school student. I was even more mad the way the film let him have his cake and eat it too. In effect the film said it was OK to cheat on your pregnant girlfriend because if you really apologize she'll take you back. I don't feel like he felt guilty for the act. He was just sorry he got caught. I don't feel that he learned anything from the experience. Nor did I feel is he unlikely to do it again.
I was sad that his girlfriend took him back. She admits he killed her love/trust and that it would never be the same. I was even sadder at the end that (to me) seemed to imply she was going to cheat on him too.
I thought the film was going to be about finding contentment in a monogamous relationship - to show that it's OK to give up "the chase", the desire for others because the committed relationship would be a more rewarding experience than a series of one-night stands. (This is not to say it also can't show that people can be perfectly happy as single and free -- I had no problem with the dread-locked guy who openly admitted he was just in it for sex). Instead it showed relationships/marriage as suffocating and unhappy for both parties. It showed that straying out side the relationship seemed to be normal (at least for the men).
I wasn't asking for ALL the characters to be blissfully happy and not have any doubts - or for everyone to feel they needed to be in a relationship. (clearly the obsessed guy needed to learn to be on his own.) I was merely hoping for a exploration of both sexes dealing with these doubts and issues - and I feel what I got was one-sided and very biased towards a particular conclusion. I'll admit I was biased too -I'd hoped for a ending that showed the people in a relationship as seeing that giving up others for a committed relationship is worth it. Instead I feel like I got the reverse. Perhaps it's my fault for coming with certain expectations.
I simply couldn't relate to any of them (being in the same age, having entered a long term relationships, thinking about these issues) - I'd really hoped it would resonate and make me think. Instead I found it rather depressing and disheartening.
And while I hate to stereotype, I'm sort of hoping that was an Italian mentality that would not translate to a different culture's version of this film/these issues. So I'm going to break my cardinal rule of not seeing remakes and watch the American version called "Last Kiss" to see if it plays out in the same manner.
Good for Gabrielle Muccino, who wrote and directed this film!. A very good
film. The user comment I read in this board mentioned whether or not to
take seriously the italian's temper or if the outbursts were meant to make
people laugh. The answer (from my South-American Latin perspective) is...of
course they were serious and very real!. We don't usually "hide" our
feelings. If we feel angry, we show it! If we feel great, we show! When
we laugh, we laugh out loud! When we love, we do it with
The film is very good. Martina Stella (the 18-yr old high school girl who
falls in love with the 29-yr Marco) in her featured debut is very good, and
simply delightful to watch, since she is actually very pretty and sexy.
I saw this film on DVD in the same session along with "Bella Martha" (also written/directed by a woman, Sandra Nettelbeck, check it out). Even when the latter is superior, "L'ultimo baccio" (Italian for "The Last Kiss") is nevertheless a very good film. This film mixes a first-rate modern cinematography with what used to be called "Italian realism" of the 50s and 60s. The mix is great and works fine.
I have seen this movie yesterday and I was really shaken by it - it is a very nicely made movie with nice pictures, lovely actors/actresses and surroundings. The key fact is that the content is really realistic and it is a movie where you will find your own past or future concerning "modern" relationships, because nearly everybody has gone trough the same experiences in one way or the other. This is what i find so amazing about this movie. He was able to draw pictures of emotions/situations and all people who watches the movie have the feeling that their own story has been told. Young girl being "used" as escape by a slightly older guy - Problems in a relationship because of pregnancy and the fear that life will alter significantly - problems in relationship because a young mother struggles more with baby than take care of anything else , or just being 50 and looking back on the past, realizing that love has gone -
This is simply beautiful. Director Muccino give us a deep look into
parenthood, age and other things.
In one side is Carlo, played beautifully by Stefano Accorsi, and his
In the opposite side are the women, the mother (excellent characterization
by Stefania Sandrelli) of Giulia another excellent performance by this
actress that honestly I can't recall her name.
They are going to have a baby. And that is very important for a mother and a
father but a little incident with some schoolgirl could throw all away.
Couldn't be possible?. And there is more, Carlo's friends are going to
leave their girls even that one hasn't got a girl.
They are going (by boat) to the end of the world.
The deepness is awesome.
That could be all.
All the character's RELATIONSHIP are going down. Director is better than
Cantet (Human Ressources) in exploring those things. And sometimes he takes
that relationship to a limit beyond the imaginable.
The setting is good, the music and the casting are superb and to conclude
this is a movie about taking responsibility at the age of 30.
My rating of course due to all those facts is 10 or maybe 40 out of 10.
The generation of 30-year-old is under study in Italy nowadays. Between
jobs, high rents, low salaries, prefer stay with their parents and not
getting married. But they also give the impression they reject
responsibility and adult life (fancy the French film "Tanguy" was drawn
from an Italian law case!). Check out "I laureati" by Leonardo
Pieraccioni to find a film with a similar subject.
But there is not only the 30-year-old crisis, there is also a 50-year-old crisis shown in the film. Which enlarges the focus of the picture to love life and commitment in general. Love is shown in its "mortality". It ends. Family life is disappointing and suffocating, for the 30-year-old just as for the 50. The temptation of escaping is great.
But it may be too late. Or you don't have courage enough. Or it is not really what you want. Then staying at home and resigning oneself seems to be the next best thing, but the only available one. Is this happiness? I don't know. Someone may be satisfied with the "happy end" where every thing is put together, but I personally retained a feeling of uncomfortableness. Pay attention to the very last moments of the film. The "we reap as we sow" message.
Actors: I loved Stefania Sandrelli, courageous and ironic enough to let the director film her CLOSE and show all the wrinkles, the years that have passed by. She is credible and expressive. I also love Sergio Castellito, always great. Martina Stella is very "fresh" and also credible in her role. What I really could not stand are Stefano Accorsi and Giovanna Mezzogiorno!!! I don't know if it is a personal dislike, for Accorsi it may be since I hate him in almost all the films he makes, instead I liked Giovanna Mezzogiorno very much in "La finestra di fronte". But the way they acted here, always panting, this jarring repetition of "huh-huh-huh". I've read comments here wondering if this behavior is "normal". No, in my (Italian) opinion it sounds fake.
In conclusion, I advise you not to watch this film if you are planning your wedding.
"Last Kiss (L'ultimo Bacio)" is a rollicking, sped up, very Italian
version of "Four Weddings and a Funeral," though here it's two
weddings, a funeral, a couple of affairs and a separation.
This is a very contemporary take on Northern Italian upper middle class society in modern apartments and houses and lots and lots of mobile phones. The casting is marvelous, as each character is made distinct by each actor's appearance and the character's foible and romantic situation within a large ensemble of four almost-30 friends from college, their significant others, and a set of parents and their friends.
The music is coordinated briskly with the zooming editing and I'm sure if I knew Italian pop music would be commenting on each character's taste. Ironically, the characters who seem languid and peaceful at the beginning, of course by the end are running around yelling when everyone else has calmed down.
The subtitles are in yellow, though still difficult to read, but barely communicate the characters' conversations; they speak at breakneck pace and can't possibly just say what's written, which was confirmed by my Italian friend (she also said that the written language is considerably cleaned-up, even with the subtitles including the occasional assh*le and f*ck -- that the insults are considerably more biologically descriptive). If Hollywood makes a version, there will be some cleaning up of the characters' actions (particularly as regards an "American Beauty"-like obsession, as the audience I was with gasped a few times at how far sympathetic characters went and then lied about it. Unusual for such a "When will you grow up?" movie, we also see the impact of impending grandparenthood. But extremely rare for an Italian movie (and for Italian society, says my friend) this showed what's good for the goose can be good for the gander.
(originally written 9/2/2002)
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