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Don't necessarily expect to see the next step in Andrew Largeman's
life. While the trailer makes you think "Hey, it's Zach Braff playing
another guy who is confused about his life, and not sure where to go
from here", The Last Kiss does offer a little more. For one its much
more mature, and the characters are all flawed (and not in cute
'Natlalie Portman lies to get people to like her' ways) and they are
all real. The performances were far better than i expected, the entire
cast shines. The movie succeeds in appealing to everyone. No matter who
you are and what state your romantic life is in, you will find someone
to relate too.
Jacinda Barrett finally gets to show some acting skills, and comes through beautifully. Casey Affleck is great. Zach Braff makes me understand why he wants something different, despite the fact that Jacinda Barrett seems so lovable. And the biggest surprise is Rachael Bilson. Early on she seems as if she is playing Summer Roberts on the big screen, but as her character unfolds she simmers with sex appeal, and was able to break my heart with just a simple gesture.
The Last Kiss succeeds in letting its actors shine, and if anything you should see it for its great soundtrack.
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?
I saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival to a packed
And what a showing it was!
When I stepped in to watch this, I had no idea where the movie would go, nor if it would be remotely interesting. But it quickly started to make sense. An outdoor wedding by the lake, guys talking guy stuff, and cute girls chatting and flirting from the other table, and soon you know it's going to be about guy/girl relationships. And so the plot evolves.
And while it's not an entirely unique story-line, there are unique things about it. The characters are distinct. The main cast of 4 guys all get enough screen time and have their own 'problems' that can easily interweave that the story could really jump from one character to the next. That's a good thing. A relatively predictable story then becomes slightly less so.
If you're looking for a moderate movie -- nothing too serious, but then nothing too fluffy -- something that you can watch, maybe chuckle a few times, or maybe something that might get you to think more deeply about relationship (and in particular if you're considering getting into a long-term relationship, or if you're not sure a long-term relationship you're in), then this would be just the ticket. You get into the minds of the characters, and there are quite a few that you can get to know, which lets you empathize with them. Some questions that I pondered watching this: is avoidance an option in life? Is truth always the best policy?
Anyways, women will find this to be an enjoyable watch, as there are a few distinct women's points of view that come forth through this which seemed quite honest.
Anyways. Strong acting. A few giddy moments, but fun overall. The result was a story that moved along nicely.
I found myself actually enjoying this movie very much. Without giving
anything away, it deals with the story of four male friends and how
their relationships with women have evolved. They are all in their late
20's about to hit 30 and the reality of behaving and acting like an
adult suddenly sets in.
I liked the movie very much because I saw myself in the main character and how I used to be when I was his age. Entertaining! The ending was actually surprising--the movie dealt with how both men and women react when they are hurt by the ones we love.
Go see it! Two thumbs up!
The Last Kiss, a film by Tony Goldwyn (Yes son of Samuel Goldwyn) was adapted from the 2001 Italian film L'Ultimo bacio, and written for the screen by none other than Paul Haggis. The Last Kiss goes through a number of relationships, spanning a number of different ages, and dissects the hardships of those relationships. Zach Braff seems to have upgraded his acting from Garden State and might actually become a more dexterous and talented actor than previously perceived. Paul Haggis' wonderful dialog lends greatly to the reality and adversity that co-exist alluringly within this screenplay. This film has been incorrectly advertised as a romantic comedy that puts Braff in the middle of two girls, and he cannot decide which one he wants to continue his life with. This is simply not true. The film is about a group of people that have just seen what the rest of their lives are going to be like, and want to add a small bump in the road of life. Overall the film does a lot more than your average romantic comedy/buddy film, and shoves the afflictions and austerities of modern-day relationships in your face. This is not the greatest of date movies, like the trailer wants us to believe, and should be perceived as a more earnest and pensive film than it appears.
Although I could never pin-point the one "off thing" about Garden
State, I still am in believe that it is one of the best films I have
seen in the past few years. Zach Braff really showed his worth with
that film, and being an off-fan of Scrubs as well, I looked forward to
his next film. It has been two years, but finally we now have The Last
Kiss, which was scripted by recent two-time Oscar winner Paul Haggis. I
managed to win a double pass to see a sneak preview of the film, and
after seeing it, I am very glad that I did.
The Last Kiss centres around Michael (Braff). He is twenty-nine, and like anyone growing up, is conflicted about life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), who just happens to be expecting their child, and life-long friends (the likes of which include Casey Affleck and Eric Christian Olsen). But as he is beginning to go through this crisis, he ends up meeting a young College student named Kim (Rachel Bilson), who becomes totally drawn to Michael after she lays eyes on him during a wedding.
What follows is a somewhat poignant coming-of age story. It is a bit of a departure from the usual work Haggis does, but his work here is just as good as the rest. On one hand, it is nowhere near as good as Garden State, but on the other, it feels more realistic and more mature than it. These are real characters facing real problems, and the fact is that, almost anyone can identify with them. The film stays grounded in reality for its entirety, and rarely deviates off course (unlike some of the strange subplots in State).
While it does focus on Braff's character mainly, there is special attention brought down in many cases to Affleck's character (as Olsen's soul purpose seems to be most of the comedy and/or sex scenes). It is honest and for the most part, absolutely heart-breaking to watch the characters go through life's challenges. But at it's core, like State, it is a film that speaks to the current generation, and tries to make an attempt at letting them know that everyone feels these anxieties, and that they truly are not easy to deal with. I would be lying if I did not say that I saw a little bit of myself and my thoughts in these characters.
The excellent performance here from Braff only continues to prove why he will soon become one of Hollywood's most sought-after actors. While some of the things his character ends up doing over the course of the film may become slightly agitating, his performance does not. Although his facial expression barely changes throughout the film, you can see the genuine emotion he is conveying in his performance. His body language and demeanor is both touching and pitiful (in a good way) at the same time. You really do not know if you want to love or hate this guy through his anxiety-ridden phase, and as a result, Braff really strikes an emotion-chord that probably would never have been even nearly as well developed with any other actor.
Barrett and Bilson really stand out as the women in Braff's characters life. They play their characters so they distinctly different to the point of it being deliciously delightful all at once. The two contrast each other magnificently, from Barrett's wholesomeness to Bilson's devilish sexiness. The happiness and sadness they have to go through is excellent, and again, really gives a sense of realism to the film. They really grow throughout the film, and their chemistry with Braff is an absolute wonder to witness. Supporting turns from Affleck, as well as Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson as Jenna's parents are all very well done (although slightly underplayed), and only complement the other three even more so.
The only thing I can really find wrong with the film lies squarely with Haggis' script (which was reportedly edited slightly by Braff). While the film is great, it really does not stay solid on what it is trying to be. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? It is hard to tell, as scenes that should be purely whimsical are not all that funny, and devastatingly dramatic scenes have the audience laughing hysterically. This only happened in a few instances (the rest of the scenes are either funny or dramatic), but it was downright awkward in many cases. Braff managed to blend the two together quite well for Garden State, and we have seen how masterful Haggis' work is, so why does it all not totally come together here? It really makes for quite the serious question, as the film could have easily slipped in as the best of the year so far, but must contend with being just one of the best.
While the film has a chillingly bizarre problem with its tone, the performances and story more than make up for it. This is an excellent and poignant coming-of age film, and yet another vehicle to show off the work of Braff and Haggis. And with a superb supporting cast to boot, I am unsure of what more to ask for.
"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.
This was one of the most nauseating and emotionally draining
experiences I have ever had in the theater and I loved every moment of
it. Actor-turned-director Tony Goldwin's film successfully explores
every undesirable, yet inevitable, characteristic of adult
relationships with such frightening realism that I feared that my
enjoyment of it bordered on masochism. However, despite the harrowingly
realistic dialogue and circumstances, or perhaps, because of them, The
Last Kiss emerges as one of the best films of the year, and perhaps
even one of the best films of its kind.
The film revolves around an assembly of couples linked together via the close friendships of the male counterparts, each exemplifying a variant of relationship disintegration, respectively. Adultery, aging, pregnancy, fear of commitment, loneliness, betrayal, and mistrust, are the primary characteristics explored in The Last Kiss, each likely to feel slightly too close for comfort to any member of the audience that has ever experienced romance, heartache, or even personal insecurity. A painful tapestry of truth, The Last Kiss features an exceptional screenplay, containing dialogue that is nearly unparalleled in its honesty and precision regarding relationships or the lack thereof. It never becomes melodramatic or exaggerated, but is careful to maintain a respect of its subject matter.
The Last Kiss; Michael is a frustrated architect on the brink of
turning 30, who's spirits are dampened when he begins feeling as if his
life is formulatic and planned. At a good friend's wedding, he meets
Kim, a beautiful and charming college student. Michael's uncertanties
with his fiancée Jenna lead to an unexpected affair with his new
collegiate. However Michael is forced to deal with the consequences of
his actions when his secret spills.
The Last Kiss is a very good movie, although you're likely to be depressed leaving the theater if you are under the age of 30. Smart, engaging and honest, along with incredible acting and dead-on dialogue add up to a penetrating, insightful melodrama that isn't afraid to pull the punches.
The movie is undeniably sad, but it's a certain type of sad in which you will probably find it hard to look away. The characters are interesting, flawed people just like you and me, and everyone stumbles onto something interesting from scene to scene.
4 from 5
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Of all the movies I have seen recently, trying to grasp a hint of real life experience, this delivers in a splendid and quite significant way. Not to mention the terrific acting, but the comparison of several different relationships really works. Zach Braff is awesome as usual, as well as Casey Affleck's unusual appeal as the "the very unhappy married man" but the real surprises for me were that of Jacinda Barrett and Rachel Bilson. Jacinda Barrett, aka Real World London hottie, who knew she had this in her? Her and Braff's fight scenes literally brought tears to my eyes because they were so true to life, the acting from her was phenomenal. And Rachel Bilson? Goodbye O.C., hello mistress of seduction. She really broke away from her only known role as Summer Roberts, and introduced the world to a more mature actress, willing to take risks that actually work!!! The ending is definitely left up to interpretation, which changes the age old myth, that all problems can be resolved in two hours time!! I highly recommend this film.
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