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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
"And he knew, before he could kiss her, he must drive something out of himself. And a touch of hate for her crept back again into his heart." D. H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
I don't know about you, but maintaining love amid the pressures of modern society makes me feel every time as if this is the last kiss, even in a long term relationship. Will she tire of me or I of her? Will a baby change everything? Will marriage lock me in to my future without my control?
These and other contemporary issues such as realistically understanding parents' adult-love situations are the purview of The Last Kiss, an intense melodrama that watches the disintegration and sometimes rehabilitation of every relationship in the film, including a parents' seemingly perfect union.
As writer Paul Haggis did with Million Dollar Baby and Crash, he fashions reality-like dialogue around common struggles, which he elevates to universals. For example: "The world is moving so fast now that we start freaking long before our parents did because we don't ever stop to breathe anymore." This is not Eugene O'Neill, but it may be closer to modern idiom than the noted playwright's work.
In other words, these situations sound more real than reality TV, even though both are scripted, possibly because this film does not attempt to glamorize or accessorize the everyday challenges of maintaining love. Ibsen crossed with Pinter is the closest I can come to the style and tone of The Last Kiss, as good an explication of modern romance as we're going to get this year.
Granted, the people in this film are better looking than we and have more leisure time to agonize than we do, but then the beauty of art is in excising the mundane and exposing the big issues often played out by the beautiful. I fault the film only for its absolute adherence to reality, which does not admit elevated language while other elements are heightened such as the beautiful parents' home and the temptress's unworldly seductiveness.
Be prepared to face yourself if you have a last kiss.
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