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Michael and Jenna, having been a couple for three years, want to get married and start a family. These plans seem to be well on their way when Jenna announces that she's pregnant. But Michael is worried that his life and his youth will be over for good. At a wedding of a friend, he meets a free-spirited college co-ed, Kim, who opens his eyes and leads him on a dangerous path away from Jenna. Meanwhile, none of the relationships of the people surrounding Michael and Jenna are happy and stable. Michael's friend Izzy is unwilling to let go of his childhood sweetheart Arianna; Kenny is a handsome stud who fears commitment to his latest conquest Danielle; and Chris is a co-worker who is dominated by his neurotic and overbearing wife over raising their newborn son. Even Jenna's parents, Stephen and Anna, are experiencing problems in their long-suffering marriage. Written by
I know I saw the 2001 Italian original, but didn't remember much about it until I saw Tony Goldwyn's remake and the scenes and story came back. And it then surprised me how much of the original I managed to remember. That's also possibly because Oscar-winner Paul Haggis' screenplay sticks awfully close to its Italian origins.
I am a fan of Zach Braff's work. "Scrubs," for my dough, is the best half-hour comedy on TV and his directorial debut, "Garden State," was one of the best films of 2004.
"The Last Kiss" is not a romantic comedy by any stretch of the imagination, no matter what advertising campaign the studio launched. This is a well-acted, well-told story about the dumb things we men do to the women we love. And, of course, the consequences.
The film delves deeply into the insecurities of its characters, never offering pat answers or easy resolutions. There are no Richard-Gere-climbing-the-fire-escape-to-get-Julia Roberts moments in the film.
Braff plays Michael, a 30s man facing the harsh reality that the rest of his life has been plotted out and he longs for something different. Despite having a gorgeous fiancée Jenna (the lovely Jacinda Barrett), he finds temptation around the corner.
The film balances its three subplots well. They never interfere with the Michael-Jenna saga, yet add to the complexities of the story.
However, I found it interesting that while in the Italian film, the object of the protagonist's desire was a high-school Lolita, Haggis and Co. opted to make her - in this case, Kim (Rachel Bilson) - a college student. The Italian film tends to be a bit more potent on that level, though Michael's attraction to Kim is believable.
The performances all find the right pitch. Braff is completely believable as the confused young man in search of meaning to his life. Barrett is heartbreakingly good. There also are some terrific supporting performances from Casey Affleck, Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson. Then again, when was the last time you saw Wilkinson perform badly?
Couples should see this film. It's a mature, thoughtful, unpretentious, and sometimes even difficult, movie to see. But it is gratifyingly good. Don't go expecting a typical fluffy date movie. This film raises interesting and important questions about couplehood and then lets you figure out the answers. When was the last time a Hollywood film did that?
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