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Kissing on the Mouth (2005)

Unrated  |   |  Drama  |  12 March 2005 (USA)
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Raw. Honest. Naked. "Kissing on the Mouth" is post-college life in close-up. Ellen is sleeping with her ex-boyfriend while trying to ignore the fact that he's looking for more than just sex... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Kate Winterich ...
Kevin Pittman ...
Chris Bucket
Laura (as Kris Williams)
Julie VanDeWeghe ...
Ryan Burg ...
Annie Gomberg ...
Kevin Bewersdorf ...
Mary Lee Giacalone ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ivan Albertson ...
TV Voice (voice)
Mike Hagan ...
TV Voice (voice)
Mike Swanberg ...
TV Voice (voice)


Raw. Honest. Naked. "Kissing on the Mouth" is post-college life in close-up. Ellen is sleeping with her ex-boyfriend while trying to ignore the fact that he's looking for more than just sex. Her roommate, Patrick, isn't helping matters with his secretive and jealous behavior. The small cast served as the only crew on this intimate and humorous film featuring real interviews with recent college graduates and a documentary approach to the graphic sex and conversations. Written by Joe Swanberg

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Post-college life in close-up.





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Release Date:

12 March 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Calowanie w usta  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

The uncommon debut
22 January 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Joe Swanberg was bold to make Kissing on the Mouth his directorial debut. Everything about it is a risk, and in 2005, do-it- yourself filmmaking had not gained the incredible momentum it has in recent time. This is the kind of film you make your fifth or sixth film, after you've established a name for yourself and your work and have created your own style of filmmaking.

This is an uncommonly ambitious directorial debut from a man I admire quite heavily and have made an effort to pay attention to for the last couple of years. Since Kissing on the Mouth, Swanberg has predicated his film career off of making extremely low- budget films that often explore the themes of sexual exploration, technology, communication, the filmmaking process, and post-college life and his entry into the film world is one that steadily prepared us for what was to come. Ever since Swanberg entered film, he has been met with a sizable fire-storm of criticism for his low-budget style, which is often billed as mumblecore, a subgenre of film that is heavily defined by character, cheap production values, and excessive amounts of naturalistic dialog.

The film follows Ellen (Kate Winterich), a twentysomething who has just had sex with an ex-boyfriend while currently seeing Patrick (Joe Swanberg), a fellow twentysomething currently invested in a personal project he's constructing that includes commentary on modern relationships and personal feelings on love. Patrick is the jealous type, while Ellen is the type of girl who possesses an "I don't care, you shouldn't care" attitude when it comes to issues in her life, and when the possibility of her cheating comes into question by Patrick, she increasingly becomes more closeted and alienating in her attempt to try to piece together what she wants without her entire love-life crumbling.

A large part of this already short film (seventy-eight minutes) is sex, and by a large part, I mean roughly forty percent. However, the sex here is unconventional. It has an unpolished, imperfection to the way it is filmed, with Swanberg using extreme closeups on pubic hair, nipples, and unclear parts of the body. This style provoked intrigue as well as frustration for me because while I get a subversively shot sex scene I am also greeted with a shot that doesn't have accurate placement nor clear distinction of what exactly is occurring. Some will undoubtedly find this annoying and irritating, and, for that, it's almost too easy to dismiss everything the film has housed in it.

Admittedly, Swanberg relies too heavily on these sex scenes, which scarcely come off as erotic more-so than as an anarchic attempt at creating style. Where Swanberg shines is in filming heavily-improvised dialog between the cast members, which is always a great time in my book. Because of the naturalism and inherent authenticity to the material based on its lack of gloss and polish, the actors could very well be expressing their own opinions to us and with that we naturally take away what we want from their monologues and discard whatever we don't want.

While forty percent of the picture is made up of extended sex scenes shot with varying uses of the closeup camera shot, the remaining sixty is dialog or music montage. Obviously, the dialog takes prominence here because then we really can get a sense of what these characters are about and what their opinions on love are. The film's most revealing attribute is Patrick's audio montage of several different unseen people weighing in on subjects from marriage to hookups to relationships. This provides for a pleasantly relativistic look on other people's opinions of popular subjects. If sex/ relationships were political topics, Kissing on the Mouth would be the ultimate debate film.

Just a few days ago I viewed Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless for the first time, a film that fundamentally and aesthetically changed the ideas of cinema by shamelessly bending the rules and toying with conventions that were long carried out by new as well as veteran directors. When Godard's directorial debut hit the scene in 1960, a breakthrough movement in cinema history was born. To compare Swanberg's Kissing on the Mouth to Godard's Breathless, to some, would seem like comparing trash and art but if one looks at how they fearlessly shatter all preconceived judgments and convention, one could view them as birds of a feather. It just so happens that one feather went on to leave an irrevocable watermark while the other left something of a lesser marking. For one of the pioneering films of the mumblecore subgenre in cinema - a subgenre I adore and simply can't get enough of - it's still quite fascinating and, at times, moving in its insights.

Starring: Kate Winterich and Joe Swanberg. Directed by: Joe Swanberg.

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