Monday, November 20, 2006

The Last Kiss


"What you feel only matters to you. It's what you do to the people you love. That's what matters. That's the only thing that counts."

Written by:
Paul Haggis

Directed by:
Tony Goldwyn

Zach Braff
Jacinda Barrett
Rachel Bilson
Blythe Danner
Tom Wilkinson

My rating: 3/5

This film examines the love lives of 5 couples, four on the brink of their 30's and one couple well into their golden years. The story focuses on four friends, each representative of various stages of life. Kenny represents adolescence as he screws around and doesn't have any plans to settle down, Izzy has just had his heart broken, Michael (Braff) is recently engaged with a baby on the way and Chris's wife has just had a baby and they are going through a break-up.

The main focus of the story is Michael and his charming, kind, innocent girlfriend. He is struggling with a fear of commitment and faces all the horrors of settling down; the fear of never sleeping with another woman again being the main fear. As the film's protagonist, he is very unlikeable and after recklessly cheating on his girlfriend with a silly college girl (Bilson) he only feels remorse when he is found out. This is the film's main weakness. It is hard for the audience to believe that Michael genuinely made a mistake and has now learned his lesson. It just feels like he has had the rug pulled out from under his comfortable life and his regard for his girlfriend is merely a selfish comfort zone and she deserves much more. Presumably, the director cast Braff because of his "loveable screw-up" persona but here he just comes across as an arrogant, soulless yuppie. It is the women in this film that carry the performances. They do most of the work in capturing the tragedy of the maturing relationship. Mostly, the men descend into "American Pie" characterisation that should have been avoided at all costs.

The film, however, has a lot going for it. The interweaving stories work very well and the film is an enjoyable watch and inarguably well-written by Oscar-winner Paul Haggis. The relationships are realistic and if viewed as a cynical comment on the cruelty of frivolity, it may have worked very nicely. However, the ending of the film proves that this was not the writer's intention.

The film is beautifully shot, has a great soundtrack but by the end of it you are very sorry you have no real hero to root for.


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